Faculty of Biological Sciences

Prof Alan Berry

BSc, PhD 1983, Southampton.
Professor in Molecular Enzymology
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology

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

Contact:  Astbury 10.108, +44(0) 113 34 33158, email address for  

You can read more about Prof Berry's interests here:

Figure 1: (ABe)

Figure 2: Generation of a screen for new aldolase activities

Research Interests

Engineering proteins for new functions

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.


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

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:

Modules taught

BIOC1301 - Introductory Integrated Biochemistry: the Molecules and Processes of Life
BIOC1303 - Introductory Biochemistry: Problem Solving and Data Handling
BIOC2301 - Intermediate Integrated Biochemistry
BIOC2303 - Intermediate Biochemistry: Skills
BIOC3160 - Laboratory/Literature/Computing Research Project
BIOC3160/BOL3306/3398/MICR3080/3110/3190/3370 - MCB projects
BIOC3221/22 a - ATU - Natural Product Biosynthesis
BIOC3231/32 a - ATU - Directed evolution
BIOC3231/32 b - ATU - Synthetic Biology
BIOL3398 - Research Tools and Applications
BIOL3399 - Extended Research Project Preparation
BIOW5903X - Structure/Function of Nucleic Acids
CHEM5315M - Emerging Topics in Chemical Biology


Chair of Graduate School Committee (Director of the Graduate School)
Member of Faculty Taught Student Education Committee (Director of Postgraduate Research Studies)

Centre membership: The Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology

Group Leader Prof Alan Berry  (Professor in Molecular Enzymology)

Engineering proteins for new functions 


Emma Cawood (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Ieva Drulyte (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Brendan Farrell (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Asif Fazal (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Jonathan Foster (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Rachel Johnson (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Alex Moloney (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Sophie Moul (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
James Murphy (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
David Nicholson (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Christopher Rowley (Primary supervisor) 60% FTE
Caroline Seiler (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Robert Smith (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Amy Stainthorp (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Gemma Swinscoe (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Emily Turri (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
James Scott (Co-supervisor) 10% FTE