Heme and heme degradation functions (HHDP)

2012 – 2018

Besides its function as prosthetic group, heme and in particular its degradation products (heme and heme degradation products, HHDPs) can give rise to unexpected physiological and pathophysiological reactions. The underlying molecular processes, however, are only partially understood because HHDPs are only beginning to be recognized as signaling molecules. Moreover, HHDPs are chemically complex and often labile molecules; their endogenous synthesis and methods for their quantitative detection in the body or in individual living cells are unknown.
An interdisciplinary team of researchers from diverse disciplines such as neurology, intensive care medicine, molecular physiology and biophysics, biochemistry, biophotonics as well as synthetic and analytical chemistry investigate the generation of HHDPs and their alternative functions and signaling mechanisms.
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2010 – 2014

Novosides is a collaborative research project funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Four academic institutes and two industrial partners from five European countries are involved in the work packages. Our goal is the development of biocatalytic processes for the glycosylation of small organic molecules such as flavonoids, alkaloids and steroids. Glycosylation can drastically improve both the physicochemical and biological properties of these molecules, but very few biocatalysts are currently available to perform this modification cost-efficiently at the industrial scale.
The glycosylation potential of transglycosidases, glycoside phosphorylases and glycoside hydrolases will now be explored in more detail. These enzymes catalyze the transfer a glycosyl group from cheap and readily available donor substrates (e.g. sucrose) to different acceptor molecules. To maximize their performance, the enzymes’ specificity and stability will be engineered by means of directed evolution, using novel fluorescent probes as tools for high-throughput screening. The reactions will then be optimised and scaled-up at pilot plant facilities to allow the commercial exploitation of the glycosylated products.
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