Dr. Maher Abou Hachem
Maher Abou Hachem has conducted his graduate studies at the Department of Biotechnology, Lund University, where he worked on thermostable hemicellulose active enzymes and CBMs and obtained his PhD in 2003. This was followed by a short postdoctoral research stay at Carlsberg Research Center exploring the interactions between proteinacious inhibitors of barley GH13 enzymes.
In 2004, Maher moved to the Technical University of Denmark, where is now an associate professor in the Enzyme and Protein Chemistry group at the Department of Systems Biology.
Maher’s research interests include enzymes and binding modules active on starch and related glucans as well as proteins mediating oligo- and polysaccharide utilization in probiotic bacteria.
Oligosaccharide utilization in probiotics for biorefinery based prebiotic design
Carbohydrate prebiotics, comprising mainly non-digestible oligosaccharides but also a few polysaccharides, alter the balance between gut microbiota by selectively stimulating the growth of probiotics.
We have investigated the routes of utilization of various glycosides in two well characterized probiotic strains using proteomics, transcriptomics, and functional genomics analyses. The data provided experimental support for the identification of sub-specificities within different GH families involved in glycoside utilization, and for the annotation of transport proteins, which are otherwise ill-studied and assigned.
Further insight into the glycoside utilization machinery was gained through biochemical and structural characterisation of selected carbohydrate active proteins.
All together, this work constitutes a framework for advancing our understanding of a key facet of probiotic action and understanding the determinants of selective carbohydrate utilization by this physiologically important group of bacteria.
The project was funded by a FøSu grant from the Danish Strategic Research Council to the project “Gene discovery and molecular interactions in prebiotics/probiotics systems. Focus on carbohydrate prebiotics”.