PhD positions in enzyme engineering and biocatalysis (2.0 FTE)

Updated: 22 days ago
Deadline: 31 May 2021

In order to pursue our research activities, we are looking for two highly motivated PhD candidates who will contribute to an EU-ITN project called CC-TOP (https://cc-top-itn.eu/cc-top-project/). The main goal of CC-TOP is to train the next generation of multi-disciplinary researchers in order to boost the development and exploitation of carboligation enzymes for industrial biotechnology, in particular for production of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Therefore, CC-TOP will train 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in a mosaic of disciplines and technologies around enzymatic carboligation and its translation into industrial application. The network´s aim for efficient translation of breakthrough technology into industrial application is emphasised through the implementation of an industrial skills module and measures for active innovation management involving all ESRs. The two individual ESR projects at the University of Groningen are described below.

PhD project (ESR13) on exploiting enzyme promiscuity to develop novel aldolases
ESR13 investigates 4-oxalocrotonate tautomerase (4-OT) promoted aldol addition of acetaldehyde to a variety of benzaldehydes looking for efficiency, stereochemistry and product selectivity. The researcher will generate mutability landscapes for this enzyme to develop tailor-made aldolases with enhanced activity and selectivity and will harness the best performing enzymes in (chemo)enzymatic cascades to prepare diols and aminoalcohols. In addition, redesigned natural aldolases will also be tested as potential catalysts for these and related reactions. Moreover, the researcher will oversee characterisation studies of these enzymes. Research training periods (secondments) of a few months at Prozomix Ltd (UK) and TU Darmstadt (Germany) are foreseen.

PhD project (ESR14) on engineering of enantioselective Michaelases
ESR14 investigates the promiscuous activity of 4-OT and related enzymes to promote the asymmetric addition of nitroalkanes to a wide variety of α,β-unsaturated aldehydes. For this purpose, the researcher enrolled will optimise the enzymes for reactions that yield interesting γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) precursors by using different tools of protein engineering. He/she will afterwards characterise the artificial Michaelases in terms of structure-function relationships, using techniques such as DNA sequencing, protein purification and characterisation, and X-ray structure analysis. Research training periods (secondments) of a few months at the University of Zagreb (Croatia) and Enzymicals AG (Germany) are foreseen.


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