Molecular Engineering of Enzymes
The work of our laboratory focuses on the study of protein structure-function relationship for a wide variety of enzymes of industrial interest. We try to obtain enzymes with improved properties combining experimental approaches of rational design and directed evolution. The methodology combines techniques of genetic engineering (PCR-directed and random mutagenesis, gene cloning, etc.), biochemical (protein purification, enzyme assays, protein electrophoresis, immunoblotting, etc.)and bioinformatics (predictive modeling of the structure protein).
The specific objectives of our group can be summarized in the following lines:
1. Structural modification of the properties of enzymes to improve their resistance to chemical and physical agents (temperature, pH, inhibitors), or to facilitate binding to solid supports upon which the enzymes can be used in freezing conditions.
2. Obtaining enzymes with new catalytic properties. Specific examples include the conversion of hydrolytic enzymes in biosynthetic ones and the modification of the affinity substrate. In the first case, we have succeeded in modifying the invertase of Saccharomyces cerevisie to produce fructooligosaccharides, and similarly we are working with lactases in order to get them able to synthesize galactooligosaccharides. In connection with the second example, we are studying the conversion of cellobiases in lactases.
3, Studies of enzymes and processes for production of ethanol from cellulosic wastes. We aim to obtain cellulolytic enzymes with improved properties and to use an integrated approach combining cellulolytic microorganisms and genetically modified strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to improve the efficiency of the transformation of cellulose into ethanol.