Enzyme Engineering and Structural Biology

We develop enzyme biocatalysts for the industrial production of natural products such as aromas, fragrances, dyes and pharmaceuticals.

The existing industrial pipelines have large environmental footprints due to their use of petroleum-derived, hazardous materials and their generation of toxic waste streams. Therefore, replacing the current chemical synthesis routes with bio-based processes, including cell factories and chemo-enzymatic approaches will constitute a significant step towards a greener society. It will also open up the accessible compound space and allow for the production of new-to-nature glycosides.

In nature, many natural products are glycosylated by an enzyme class termed secondary metabolism glycosyltransferases (GTs). Glycosylation alters the physico-chemical properties of the natural product, including solubility, stability and bioavailability. 

We aim at harnessing this glycosylation activity for industrial purposes by tailoring secondary metabolism GTs for specific pipelines. Thus, we are engaged in a systematic study of secondary metabolism GT structural and functional determinants, to provide the framework for efficient secondary metabolism GT discovery and engineering. 

We are combining high-throughput enzyme discovery and evolution with structure-based rational engineering to elucidate the structural determinants of key enzymatic properties such as:

  • Substrate specificity
  • Enzymatic efficiency
  • Thermostability and pH tolerance 

Our core methods are X-ray crystallography, enzymology and other classical protein chemistry techniques for biophysical characterisation. 


Ditte Hededam Welner
Groupleader of Enzyme Engineering
DTU Biosustain
+45 93 51 34 98