Enzymes – an important part of our daily life

Role of enyzmes in SUSBIND

For thousands of years, people have been using microorganisms for the production of foods such as beer, wine, vinegar, bread and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. Within these processes, so-called enzymes play an important role in the conversion of different substrates. Today, enzymes do not only play an extremely important role within nature and living organisms, but also in industrial production. Did you know that enzymes are frequently utilized in the food industry and that they are important additives in a broad range of washing and cleaning agents for example?

Within SUSBIND, enzymes play an important role as well because they are, for example, able to functionalise lipid molecules. These functionalisations make the lipids more reactive and therefore a potential building block for polymerisation. However, this will be a topic for another post.

Figure 1: Tertiary structure of an enzyme

How do enzymes actually look like?

Enzymes are catalytically active multifunctional proteins that are built up from amino acids. The primary structure of a protein is its amino acid sequence, whereas the tertiary structure (Figure 1) is the global spatial structure of the polypeptide chain. This spatial structure is responsible for the binding mechanism and the catalytic reaction at the so-called active centre. The catalytic region contains a varying number of active amino acid residues and partially (not always) so-called cofactors. Enzymes can, for example, catalyse acid-base reactions, open or close covalent bonds, or develop electrostatic interactions. This facilitates enzymes to catalyse a very broad range of reactions. As results, the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) classified different enzymes due to the reaction type they induce. Actually, this classification includes seven major enzyme classes that are grouped by EC-classes:

·       EC 1.-.-.-: Oxidoreductases

·       EC 2.-.-.-: Transferases

·       EC 3.-.-.-: Hydrolases

·       EC 4.-.-.-: Lyases

·       EC 5.-.-.-: Isomerases

·       EC 6.-.-.-: Ligases

·       EC 7.-.-.-: Translocases

Enzymes as biocatalysts offer some advantages for a sustainable chemical industry such as mild reaction conditions, biodegradability, high selectivity and therefore low by-product formation. They are already widely used in the food industry, the textile industry, the cleaning and detergent industry, the chemical industry and the pharmaceutical industry. New enzymes with tailor-made properties are constantly being sought for increasing sustainability in these branches of industry. The main focus is on the identification of new enzymes with a broad substrate and product spectrum, high stability against extreme temperatures and pH values as well as increased longevity.

Potential of enyzmes and its application in SUSBIND 

Enzymes are able to catalyse a multitude of different reactions. Therefore, in our view they have an enormous potential for use in various industrial areas. The increasing knowledge about the function of enzymes and the resulting possibilities for engineering and optimization of these enzymes will also contribute to the further establishment of economic enzyme-based processes. Within SUSBIND, enzymes are selected from different EC-classes. These enzymes will be applied e.g. for lipid modification and they will be further optimized by protein engineering.


Dr.-Ing. Fabian Haitz,


Research associate at

Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB,