I use evolution to engineer proteins and microbes. Why do the work yourself when Nature can do it for you?
The first step in the biological fluorination pathway—the incorporation of fluoride to a cellular metabolite—is also the rate limiting step. My main goal is to improve the activity of the enzyme catalyzing this reaction: fluorinase. For this, I apply rational and random protein engineering. However, using directed evolution to improve enzyme activity requires high-throughput assays. Therefore, I also work on developing methods based on fluorescent biosensors and selection for growth. Additionally, I am involved in implementing alternative fluorination pathways in our favorite bug, P. putida.