The vast majority of biological reactions are catalysed by enzymes, which often exhibit exquisite selectivity and massive catalytic rate enhancements. With a few exceptions, notably the light reactions of photosynthesis, these enzymes have evolved to work in the absence of light. However, in many cases, enzymes make use of cofactor and/or substrate chromophores, which can absorb UV and/or visible light to form reactive excited states. This presents a major, and largely unexplored opportunity in enzyme engineering as photo-excited chromophores typically exhibit very different reactivity to their (dark) ground state counterparts.
Engineered enzymes are used widely in biocatalysis, which is now widely recognised as playing a key role in the emerging bioeconomy through the sustainable production of both commodity and high-value chemicals. However, challenges remain in the design and re engineering of enzyme biocatalysts to catalyse reactions and produce products that do not occur in nature. By combing enzyme engineering and photo-catalysis, we aim to create enzymes that photo-catalyse new and useful reactions for biotechnology.
This PhD project will explore the use of enzymes that make use of flavin cofactors, so-called flavoenzymes, as visible light photo-catalysts. This is timely as the first example of a natural flavoenzyme photo-catalyst was reported this year (Scrutton, N. S. (2017) Science 357, 872). The project will make use of a broad range of modern biophysics, enzymology, biocatalysis and structural biology techniques and will be carried out at the MIB (www.mib.ac.uk ), which houses unique and state-of-the art infrastructure.
Contact for further Information
For more details contact Sam Hay ([email protected]
This project is to be funded under the BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website www.manchester.ac.uk/bbsrcdtpstudentships