Towards new enzymes: protein engineering versus bioinformatic studies

Research output: ThesisDissertationMonograph


The aim of this PhD-study was to address some of the overlapping bottlenecks in protein engineering and metagenomics by developing or applying new tools which are useful for both disciplines. Two enzymes were studied as an example: Triosephosphate Isomerase (TIM) and Uridine Phosphorylase (UP). TIM is an important enzyme of the glycolysis pathway and has been investigated via means of protein engineering, while UP is a key enzyme in the pyrimidine-salvage pathway. In this thesis TIM was used to address protein engineering aspects, while UP was used in regards to some metagenomic and bioinformatic aspects.

The aspects of a structural driven rational design approach and its implications for further engineering of monomeric TIM variants are discussed. Process development based on a new technology, EnBase®, addresses the relative instability of new variants, compared to its ancestors, for further studies. EnBase® is then applied for the production of 15N isotope labeling of a monomeric TIM variant, A-TIM.

Systematical function- and engineering studies on dimeric TIM and monomeric TIM in regards to the hinges of the catalytic loop-6 were conducted to investigate enzyme activity and stability. Both the A178L and P168A were proposed to induce loop-6 closure, a wanted feature for A-TIM variants. The P168A mutants are hardly active, but gave great insight into the catalytic machinery, while the A178L mutants did induce partial loop-6 closure, however in addition, monomeric A178L was destabilized.

Homology driven genome mining and subsequent isolation- high throughput (HTP) overexpression of a thermostable UP from the Archaea Aeopyrum pernix was carried out as an example for the production of recombinant proteins. In addition an alternative kinetic method to study the kinetics of UP by means of NMR directly from cell lysate is discussed. The combination of expression libraries and EnBase® in a HTP manner may relieve up the gene-to-product bottleneck.

The structural aspects of A. pernix UP are explored by means of simple bioinformatic tools in the last section of this thesis. A thermostable, truncated version of UP was created and its use for protein engineering in the future is explored. The long N-terminal and C-terminal ends of A. pernix UP seem to be involved in stabilizing the dimeric and hexameric structures of UP. However, deletion of the N-terminal end of A. pernix UP yielded a thermostable protein.

Overall, the finding in regards to process optimization and HTP expression and optimization and the underlying methods used in the TIM studies and the UP studies are interchangeable.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Awarding Institution
  • University of Oulu
  • Neubauer, Peter, Supervisor, External person
  • Wierenga, Rik K., Supervisor, External person
Award date12 Feb 2010
Print ISBNs 978-951-42-6098-8
Electronic ISBNs978-951-42-6099-5
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


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