Biocatalytic oxidation presents an attractive alternative to the use of traditional chemical oxidation methods, in terms of both chemical specificity and environmental impact. The EU-financed INDOX project aims at developing optimised oxidoreductases for use as biocatalysts for the synthesis of industrially relevant compounds. To enable the optimisation of these enzymes, it is of importance that we first develop a thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which they catalyse reactions.
This project focuses on extending our understanding of the catalytic mechanism of the flavin-dependent enzymes vanillyl alcohol oxidase (VAO) and eugenol oxidase (EUGO). We use site-directed mutagenesis to study the roles of specific amino acids during catalysis and to modulate the substrate specificity of the enzymes. In addition, we are interested in using VAO and EUGO for the synthesis of valuable compounds on a laboratory scale.