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High Performance Industrial Protein Matrices through Bioprocessing

Final Report Summary - HIPERMAX (High Performance Industrial Protein Matrices through Bioprocessing)

The project aimed to develop novel enzymatic technologies for the production of high-performance, economically viable protein matrices with tailored properties leading to enhanced surface/bulk characteristics. These novel materials are to be exploited in textile, leather, materials and the medical industry. The choice of matrices was focused on materials nature has already engineered.

Scientifically the objective was to discover novel enzymes capable of modifying and grafting functional groups onto protein matrices, to generate knowledge on enzymatic reaction mechanisms in molecular level using model substrates and to apply this knowledge to real substrates i.e. materials like wool, silk, leather and feathers in order to produce novel tailored materials.

% Specifically the objectives were:
1. to define accessibility and reactivity of target groups in heterogeneous protein matrices;
2. to develop screening methods and screen for novel enzymes catalysing modification of protein matrices;
3. to produce novel enzymes in pilot scale;
4. to exploit novel enzymes in order to develop tailored materials e.g. grafting antimicrobials, hydrophobic agents; crosslinking, restructuring, reinforcing to design materials with new properties and to produce added-value products from waste material.

The project integrated complementary know-how from six EU Member States. The combination of different expertise of microbiology, biochemistry, enzymology, fibre research, material science and industry into an interdisciplinary project created efficient synergy.

Within their cooperation to screen and to produce novel enzymes, partners had different main foci of research and development (R&D). At VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, screening and characterisation of novel sulfhydryl oxidases (SOXs) with the aim of enzymatic grafting i.e. incorporating certain molecules with desired functionalities into proteinaceous fibres, were performed. Furthermore the potential of a novel fungal Tyrosinase to catalyse grafting of functionalities to wool and silk was assessed in comparison to a mushroom tyrosinase. At ABEG, work was performed on the identification of novel Transglutaminases (TGases) genes and on the development of suitable expression systems (Bacillus subtilis-based) for industrial-scale production of TGases. ASTON worked on the development of sensitive assays for screening of microorganisms for the production of novel TGases, on the elaboration of optimal growth conditions and enzyme purification and characterisation. Screening of large culture collections and isolates for production of TGases was performed at BUTE. ROAL worked on the cloning of tg genes from microorganisms and on the expression of the genes in production hosts (Trichoderma reesei-based).

Several papers were published in the framework of the project and are available by contacting the coordinator.

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