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A multidisciplinary study combining computer simulations and laboratory experiments on a key-enzyme for biofuel production has been recognized as the cover article by ChemBioChem. Within the authors are members of the TUM Campus Straubing.

Cover Photo ChemBioChemChemBioChem, a scientific journal reporting on groundbreaking studies combining chemistry and biology, recognized a multidisciplinary study performed at TUMCS as their cover article. In the laboratory of Prof. Volker Sieber, researchers were able to improve their understanding of iron-sulfur dependent dehydratases, a key enzyme family in the biosynthesis of biofuel and other chemicals such as amino acids and polymer building blocks from biogenic resources, including biomass and industrial by- or waste products. Based on this understanding, they were able to design biocatalysts showing improved activity to enable more efficient biocatalytic reactions. This research was performed in collaboration among the Chair of Chemistry of Biogenic Resources at TUMCS (Prof. Volker Sieber), the Theoretical Chemical Biology group at TUM Weihenstephan (late Prof. Iris Antes), and the University of Queensland (Prof. Gerhard Schenk) in the framework of the Global Bioeconomy Alliance.

These concerted efforts between a theoretical chemist (Mr Okke Melse) and experimental biochemists (Dr Samuel Sutiono, Ms Magdalena Haslbeck) illustrates the importance of combining multiple research disciplines to tackle grand challenges for the Bioeconomy. In this work, Mr Melse applied a bioinformatics analysis followed by computer simulations to predict the role distinct amino acids play in the catalytic process employed by dehydratases. Guided by these predictions Dr Sutiono and Ms Haslbeck modified selected dehydratases by introducing targeted mutations. Some of the resulting variants have significantly improved catalytic properties and are now being used to facilitate the production of chemicals and amino acids at industrial scale.

This work was published in the scientific journal ChemBioChem, and chosen as a cover article because of its significance for the biotechnology sector and its novelty in terms of the functional insight it provides. We graciously dedicate this study and recognition to the late Prof. Iris Antes, a well-respected colleague, friend and mentor, and a front-runner in supporting multidisciplinary research. She sadly passed away before publication of this work. The detailed study is freely accessible via the link below. Open Access publication sponsored by ‘Projekt DEAL’ allows as many researchers as possible around the globe to read our article without additional cost (including you), further speeding up the uptake of our newly designed biocatalysts by other scientists and technology developers.

Find the whole article here: