Professor Alan Berry


Protein engineering is a powerful tool for the study of the relationship between structure and function of enzymes and has important applications in the design of new enzymes. Both rational redesign and directed evolutionary approaches are being used in my laboratory to alter the specificity and chemistry of selected enzymes.

The fructose bisphosphate aldolases are important targets for engineering as new catalysts for stereospecific carbon-carbon bond formation. The roles of selected amino acids in the reaction mechanism of the enzyme have been elucidated in my laboratory and crystallography of the enzyme (with Dr Hunter, Dundee) is now enabling us to rationally redesign the enzyme for new substrate specificity. We are also using directed evolution to evolve novel enzymes for use in biocatalysis. These enzymes are being created by DNA shuffling or STEPing and are then subjected to rigourous analysis by a wide range of enzymological techniques such as kinetics, ESI-MS, CD, FTIR, NMR and X-ray crystallography.

Similar approaches are being used with the tagatose bisphosphate aldolase, N-acetylneuraminate lyase and N-acetylneuraminate synthase. These latter two enzymes are involved in the biosynthesis of sialic acid, an important molecule in many recognition events. Our experiments are aimed at understanding the functioning of these important enzymes and their redesign to act as catalysts for the synthesis of useful analogs of sialic acid (with Dr Nelson, Chemistry).

Our research is supported by BBSRC and The Wellcome Trust.

Postdoctoral work at ETH-Zurich and the University of Cambridge. Appointed lecturer 1994; Senior Lecturer 1997.

  • Director of Postgraduate Research Studies: School of Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Chair of Graduate School Committee
  • Director of the Graduate School
  • Member of Faculty Taught Student Education Committee
  • Director of Postgraduate Research Studies
  • Member of Graduate School Committee
  • Wellcome Trust Representative
  • The Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology


  • Director of the Graduate School
  • Director of the Astbury Centre Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD programme
  • Director of the White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme

Research interests

Engineering proteins for new functions.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BSc, PhD 1983, Southampton.

Student education

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Altering enzymes for new functions by random mutagenesis
    Keywords: PCR, forced evolution, screening, recombinant DNA methods (Laboratory)
  • Altering enzymes by rational redesign
    Keywords: PCR, site-directed mutagenesis, protein purification, recombinant DNA methods, enzyme kinetics (Laboratory)
  • Mechanism of enzyme action
    Keywords: Enzyme assays, enzyme purification, kinetics (Laboratory)

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Engineering Proteins for new functions by Directed Evolution

See also:

Academic roles:

  • Director of Postgraduate Research Studies - School of Molecular and Cellular Biology


  • Chair of Graduate School Committee (Director of the Graduate School)
  • Member of Faculty Taught Student Education Committee (Director of Postgraduate Research Studies)
  • Member of Graduate School Committee (Wellcome Trust Representative)
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>