Dr Matt Wilding

Contact details:

Other Interests

Research Interests:

Biocatalyst identification and development: Biological routes to synthetic chemistries utilizing enzymes for novel or improved industrial processes. In particular my research focusses on transaminase biocatalyst development for polyamide production (including Bionylon). In addition the transaminases are highly promiscuous and have broader applications in other industries such as pharmaceuticals, flavours and fragrances and fine chemicals.

Enzyme evolution: In addition to studying the native roles of proteins within their host organisms, I am also interested in protein evolution and have been using ancestral reconstruction (in collaboration with Dr. Lars Jermiin) as a means to characterise proteins. As well as understanding how proteins may have evolved, this method also provides insight into sequence-activity relationships and has potential applications as a directed evolution technique.

Novel compound synthesis: One of the advantages of biocatalysts is that they can be tailored to catalyse a range of reactions. Using directed evolution techniques I have been working towards the generation of enzymes which catalyse completely novel reactions and thus give access to new molecules. Notably I have developed a "2-enzyme-1-pot" system for the synthesis of novel alkaloid precursors from simple starting materials. As with many biocatalytic processes, the reactions are carried out in water at ambient temperature and pressure, and produce products enantioselectively.

Of course, much of this work is underpinned by a good understanding of protein structure and function. I am part of an ongoing collaboration with Drs. Tom Peat and Janet Newman at CSIRO C3 for structural biology, and the X-ray structures that they are able to obtain for our proteins are essential for my research.