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:

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 - Intro Inte Biochem Mol Process
BIOC1302 - Intro Biochem Practical Skills
BIOC1303 - Intro Biochem Problem Solving
BIOC2301 - Interm Integrated Biochemistry
BIOC2302 - Intermediate Biochem: Prac
BIOC2303 - Intermediate Biochem: Skills
BIOC3111/12 a - Advanced Topics I (intro lecture)
BIOC3160 - Lab/Lit/Comp Research Project
BIOC3221/22 b - ATU 25 - Natural Product Biosynthesis
BIOC3231/32 a - ATU 10 - Directed evolution
BIOC3231/32 b - ATU 33 - Synthetic Biology
BIOL3306 - Biol Sciences Research Project
CHEM5315M - Emerging Topics in Chemical Biology


Chair of Graduate School Committee
Member of Faculty Taught Student Education Committee
Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee