Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Protein Technology

Professor Emma Master leads the Protein Technology research group. The goal of the group is to discover, design and produce enzymes and non-catalytic proteins that can be used to create new polymers and chemicals from plant fiber.

Research aims to find tools for sustainable utilization of renewable plant resources

Forest biomass (lignocellulose) is largely made up of three polymers, cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin. Today, cellulose fibers are the main product of pulp mills across Finland and globally, while over 50% of the wood biomass resource remains underutilized. Our research focuses on the discovery and development of new proteins that can be used to sustainably synthesize novel, high-value biomaterials from underutilized and renewable plant resources.

Enzymes are tools with advantages

Enzyme catalyzed reactions benefit from four key advantages.

  1. Specificity that allows predictable modification of complex substrates.
  2. Exquisite tunability through protein discovery and engineering.
  3. Operation in mild reaction conditions that can reduce energy costs and undesired transformation of starting materials.
  4. Biodegradability, which helps to ensure the sustainability of the synthesis process as well as end product.

The Protein Technology group mines unexplored genomic data from plant biomass degrading microorganisms to discover new enzymes and non-catalytic proteins able to create valuable, bio-based products from plant polysaccharides. To support this objective, our group also designs and develops new enzyme screens to address the increasing limitations of existing assays.

Examples of ongoing research projects

  • Bio-derived HIgh Value polymers through novel Enzyme function
  • Capturing Oxidoreductases for Carbohydrate Oligomer Activation
  • Biocatalytic cascades for hemicellulose reassembly
  • Fibers for adsorption

Latest publications

Quantitative Comparison of Pyranose Dehydrogenase Action on Diverse Xylooligosaccharides

Johanna Karppi, Hongbo Zhao, Sun Li Chong, Antti E. Koistinen, Maija Tenkanen, Emma Master 2020 Frontiers in Chemistry

Enzymatic production of 4-O-methyl d-glucaric acid from hardwood xylan

Thu V. Vuong, Emma R. Master 2020 Biotechnology for Biofuels

Biocatalytic Production of Amino Carbohydrates through Oxidoreductase and Transaminase Cascades

Ville Aumala, Filip Mollerup, Edita Jurak, Fabian Blume, Johanna Karppi, Antti E. Koistinen, Eva Schuiten, Moritz Voß, Uwe Bornscheuer, Jan Deska, Emma R. Master 2019 ChemSusChem

A family AA5_2 carbohydrate oxidase from Penicillium rubens displays functional overlap across the AA5 family

Filip Mollerup, Ville Aumala, Kirsti Parikka, Yann Mathieu, Harry Brumer, Maija Tenkanen, Emma Master 2019 PloS one

Unravelling the role of secreted, non-hydrolytic fungal proteins in biomass modification

Mareike Monschein, A K M AI Amin Leamon, Eleni Ioannou, Zeynep Tacer Caba, Varis Jutta, Kirsi S. Mikkonen, Emma Master 2019
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database
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