CBM 10 > Invited Speakers > Paul Walton

Prof. Dr. Paul Walton

Paul Walton is currently Professor of Bioinorganic Chemistry at the University of York Department of Chemistry.

His research interests include the structures and functions of copper enzymes, metallodrugs, biomimetic model complexes and imprinted polymers.

He is currently Chair of Heads of Chemistry UK and has served as Editor in Chief of Dalton Transactions.

Structures and Functions of Copper-Containing Polysaccharide Oxygenases

The enzymatic degradation of cellulose by fungi and bacteria is of significant current interest. The degradation is carried out by a consortium of enzymes, including a previously poorly understood class (GH61s and CBM33s respectively) which carry out the initial attack on the cellulose thus potentiating it to further degradation by classical cellulases.

As such, these enzymes hold very significant commercial potential in the production of cellulosic bioethanol. We have studied the structure and function of a GH61 (Thermoascus aurantiacus) and discovered that it is a completely new class of copper oxygenases (see PNAS, 2011, 15079) with a unique active site.

This structure furthers our understanding of GH61, but also poses new fundamental questions as to the detailed mode of action of the enzyme. The complete elucidation of the structure of GH61 required a combination of expertise from different laboratories covering structural, spectroscopic, theoretical and biochemical studies; all of which will be described in the presentation.