Laboratory of Enzyme Chemistry

Head of the Laboratory
Svetlana Ermakova, D.Sc.

Lab staff:
Irina Bakunina (senior researcher, D.Sci./E-group), Olesya Vishchuk (junior researcher, Ph.D./B-group), Natalya Shevchenko (senior researcher, Ph.D/S-group), Roza Menshova (junior researcher, Ph.D/S-group), Tatyana Imbs (researcher, Ph.D./S-group), Marina Kiseleva (researcher/B-group), Mikhail Kusaykin (deputy Director, Ph.D./E-group), Artem Silchenko (Ph.D. student/E-group).

A living system controls its activity through enzymes. An enzyme is a protein molecule that is a biological catalyst with three characteristics. First, the basic function of an enzyme is to increase the rate of a reaction. Most cellular reactions occur about a million times faster than they would in the absence of an enzyme. Second, most enzymes act specifically with only one reactant (called a substrate) to produce products. The third and most remarkable characteristic is that enzymes are regulated from a state of low activity to high activity and vice versa. Gradually, you will appreciate that the individuality of a living cell is due in large part to the unique set of some 3,000 enzymes that it is genetically programmed to produce. If even one enzyme is missing or defective, the results can be disastrous.

We isolate the enzymes from marine macro- and microorganisms. Our Lab mainly focus on enzymes cleaving polysaccharides from brown seaweeds: 1,3-β-D-glucanases, fucoidanases, sulfatases, a-galactosidases, alginate lyases.

The main goals:
Structure and function of biological macromolecules (enzymes and polysaccharides).
The mechanism of action of enzymes and biotechnological aspects of their application.

The work is performed by coordination between three groups of our Lab: “E-group” – enzyme investigation (isolation, structure and function elucidation, cloning of candidate genes, recombinant protein production); S-group substrate investigation (isolation of the polysaccharides, structure elucidation); B-group bioactivity investigation (cytotoxicity and anti-cancer activity of the polysaccharides and the products of enzymatic reaction).

Highlights and perspectives:
Characterization of the recombinant fucoidanase Crystallization and 3D structure of the glucanase from Pseudocardium sacchalinensis.