Novel thermostable enzymes for industrial biotechnology


RESULTS of THERMOGENE: Presentation can be found here.

Project coordinator
- Professor of Biological Chemistry Jennifer Ann Littlechild - University of Exeter - UK
Project leaders
- Prof. Nils-Kare Birkeland - Department of Biology and Centre for Geobiology, University of Bergen - Norway
- Prof. Peter Schoenheit - Institut für Allgemeine Mikrobiologie Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel - Germany
- Ghermes Chilov - Molecular Technologies, Ltd. Moscow - Russian Federation

The THERMOGENE project aims to identify transferase enzymes from microorganisms inhabiting natural hot environments. After ‘proof of concept’, the technologies based on new enzymes will be scaled-up in collaboration with biotech companies and commercialized. The project employs microbiology, large-scale genomics, bioinformatics, biochemistry and structural biology. It will be based on the following pipeline: sampling from natural thermal environments, isolation of phylogenetically diverse thermophilic species with desired enzymatic activities, sequencing of metagenomes or genomes of selected microorganisms, both new isolates and microorganisms from previously obtained culture collections of thermophiles, genome assembly, gene mining and functional classification of predicted proteins, high-throughput cloning, expression and activity screening, detailed biochemical and structural characterisation of selected novel enzymes.

Identification and biochemical characterization of novel thermostable transferases with biotechnological potential. The project is within scope of this call "Improved enzyme systems for new and more efficient bioprocesses".

There is an increasing demand for new thermostable enzymes with enhanced performance and/or novel functionalities that provide savings in time, money and energy for industrial processes in the areas of high value chemical production and other "white" biotechnology applications.

Enzyme chemistry can make reactions feasible that are currently unavailable using conventional chemical methods. Use of enzymes for chemical processes is a route to lower energy consumption and reduced waste generation. The selectivity of enzymatic processes reduces raw material costs and the safety issues surrounding the production of harmful byproducts. Optimised enzyme production will lead to economically viable and cost effective, sustainable production.

THERMOGENE will focus on the discovery of selected transferase enzymes with known and potential commercial applications. These include enzymes which transfer 2-carbon units, transketolases; transfer amine groups, transaminases; transfer isoprenyl or prenyl groups, prenyltransferases and which transfer methyl and hydroxymethyl groups, methyl and hydroxymethyl transferases.