Dr. Abith Vattekkatte

   Department of Bioorganic Chemistry
 Phone:+49 (0)3641 57 1259Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
 Fax:-Hans-Knöll-Straße 8
  emailD-07745 Jena

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PhD Thesis

Multiproduct Terpene Synthases:Catalytic Promiscuity and Cyclization of Substrate Geometric Isomers
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Chemisch-Geowissenschaftliche Fakultät
Supervisor(s): Prof. Dr. W. Boland
Co-Supervisor(s): Dr. S. Bartram, Prof. Dr. R. Beckert (FSU Jena, Organische Chemie)

Sesquiterpenes are one of the structurally diverse class of natural products isolated from plants, fungi, bacteria and marine invertebrates. All sesquiterpenoids known to date are derived from three hundred basic hydrocarbon skeletons generated by sesquiterpene cyclases (synthases) using farnesyl diphosphate as substrate. Terpene synthases are responsible for a large diversity of terpene carbon skeletons found in nature. The multiproduct sesquiterpene synthase MtTPS5 isolated from Medicago truncatula produces 27 products from farnesyl diphosphate. The structural basis of varying selectivity is believed to be a consequence of the three-dimensional contour of the active site that allows or refuses different conformations of the reactive cationic intermediates. I would like to study the structure of active site by crystallizing the enzyme and its mutants and follow the binding patterns and enzyme kinetics of enzyme by utilizing brominated and fluorinated analogs of farnesyl diphosphate as the substrate. I would also like to utilize classical labeling experiments, the determination of the absolute configuration and the enantiomeric excess of individual products by chiral gas chromatography and site-directed mutagenesis to study the mechanism by the products formed.