Research Seminar: Computational Enzymology: The structure, function and evolution of enzymes

Professor Dame Janet Thornton, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), Cambridge

Tuesday 13th November, 1.00 p.m., Stacey Lecture Theatre 1

We seek to understand how enzymes work and how they evolve to perform new enzyme functions using computational biology approaches.

Almost all domains that perform catalysis have evolved to work on numerous substrates. We have generated family trees, showing the evolution of these new specificities, and gaining a broad overview of enzyme evolution as we know it today. But we find that each family is different and careful analysis is required to understand individual mechanisms. In this talk I will focus on three practical topics relevant to understanding enzyme catalysis:-

(1) Annotating ligands in enzymes in the PDB

(2) Analysis of basic catalytic machinery in proteins

(3) describing a new way to estimate substrate transformations and find the most appropriate enzymes or pathways to transform a given substrate into a given product.

These methods will allow us to analyse complex enzyme families and their evolution to perform new functions and maybe ultimately help in the design of new enzymes.