Convergent evolution of enzyme function

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office


The chorismate biosynthetic pathway is required for the production of aromatic amino acids, essential building blocks of life.
However, on numerous occasions microbes have hijacked this pathway and diverted it to produce molecules that include many lifesaving drugs such as the antibiotic rifamycin, used in the treatment of TB, and immunosuppressive agents such as rapamycin. Such compounds are fundamental to modern medicine and without them many procedures that we take for granted would not be possible.
Being ever thrifty, in order to hijack this pathway Nature uses existing enzymes from the chorismate pathway and re-purposes them for the new task. In some cases the evolution of different enzymes from the pathway has converged to produce the same new product.
The project will investigate this process with the ultimate goal of bioengineering enzymes to carry out new functions, enabling the production of valuable new 'non-natural', natural products for use in medicine, for example as new antibiotics.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2112959 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Jonathan Liston