Light-driven Chemical Synthesis Using Cytochrome P450s

Our vision is to construct novel biological systems that can contribute to the transition of Europe towards being a bio-based society.

Our goal is to construct supramolecular enzyme complexes (metabolons) effectively using solar energy to produce complex diterpenoids.  

The strategic aim of our research is to engineer plant chloroplasts into light-driven effective production units for high value bio-active natural products. This will be carried out by re-routing the biosynthetic pathways for these compounds into the chloroplast and by optimizing and channelling electron transfer from photosystem I into to the energy demanding steps. The ultimate goal of this proposed research initiative is to design a toolbox that enables the construction of supramolecular enzyme complexes catalyzing light-driven and efficient formation of a variety of structurally complex diterpenoids with desired properties.

Our initial production targets are diterpenoids with the anti-cancer drug ingenol-3-angelate and the adenylyl cyclase activator forskolin as the two chosen test compounds.

Research Projects

Chloroplast as Factory Hall

By directly connecting the "solar power plants" of photosynthetic cells, Photosystem I, to enzymes responsible for the production of high-value compounds, the potential for a  novel type of green biochemical production arises.

Photosystem I Structure

The design and construction of supramolecular complexes require highly detailed knowledge of the structure and dynamics of each component. This is particularly true for metabolons, since an optimized assembly-line effect of channeling the product of one enzyme directly into acting as a substrate for the next, require a highly ordered spatial structure.