Molecular Engineering of Enzymes
The group of H. Schwab uses molecular strategies to develop enzymes for pharmaceutical and biocatalytic applications. Research includes the recruitment of novel enzymes from specific organisms or habitats by recombinant DNA techniques, the molecular characterization of the respective genes, and structural and functional analyses of the encoded proteins.
A major field of interest is the molecular engineering of enzymes towards altered substrate specificity and enhanced enantioselectivity. A strong expertise exists in developing directed evolution strategies, and of combination strategies (designed evolution) which include rational design elements. Molecular and functional analysis of mutant variants is performed to provide insight into structure-function relations of enzymes and to suggest further targets for engineering and design. The development of new methods for high-throughput screening and generation of biodiversity is a further focus of interest. The group has excellent experience in heterologous expression of proteins and the development of suitable host-vector systems.
Laboratory know-how and infrastructureThe group has experience in molecular methods of cloning, expression and engineering of enzymes towards improved process stability, substrate acceptance and enantioselectivity. Methods are being developed for enzyme engineering by rational design and directed evolution. The group has contributed significantly to the creation of the competence centre “Applied Biocatalysis”. The infrastructure includes a well established park of scientific equipment to perform molecular enzymology work which has recently been extended by a financial grant provided by the Austrian RFT. Specific equipment includes automated systems for high throughput clone handling, an automated DNA sequencing station, equipment for protein purification, enzyme activity determination and image analysis, a biacore system for measuring interaction of molecules and all equipment for cultivation of micro-organisms at the lab scale including lab fermenters. In April 2004, the group moved to a new building.