Office: SC-N 450
My laboratory focuses on enzymes. These biomolecules are capable to accelerate chemical reactions to impressive speeds under mild conditions and often with tight stereochemical control.
Research students in my laboratory characterize enzymes involved in neurotransmission and detoxification from marine gastropods (mostly Tritonia diomedea). Together we aspire to make a contribution to the field of marine ecology from a biochemical perspective. Marine gastropods show enticing behaviors, including the consumption of toxic food. The characterization of enzymes involved in detoxification or toxin resistance should thus help to unravel the biochemical basis for an animal’s survival strategies. This project is pursued in collaboration with Dr. James Murray (Biology Department, CSU East Bay) and Dr. Taro Amagata (Chemistry Department, SF State).
Another project is dedicated to enzyme immobilization using sol-gel technology. We aim to transform the enzyme chloroperoxidase (CPO) into a re-usable biocatalyst. CPO is one of the most versatile heme proteins known to date and catalyzes peroxidation, sulfoxidation, epoxidation, and halogenation reactions with various substrates. Our criteria for the generation of a re-usable biocatalyst are high catalytic efficiency, excellent enzyme retention and re-usability, and enhanced stability towards harsh reaction conditions (e.g., elevated pH, presence of organic co-solvents). Research students in my laboratory use different spectroscopic techniques (UV/VIS, CD), enzyme activity assays, and porosimetry measurements to characterize their own enzyme-sol-gel hybrid materials.
More information about the Sommerhalter Laboratory can be found here.