Marie-Cathérine Sigmund

Marie-Cathérine Sigmund 

Tell us something about your background.

During my Bachelor studies of Biology at the Technical University in Dresden (Germany), I studied ligninolytic enzymes of fungi for bleaching of industrial dyes in the research group of Prof. Karl-Heinz van Pée. There I gained experience in the production of enzymes by fungi and enzyme purification.

I expanded my knowledge in the direction of industrial applications of enzymes during my Master studies in Biochemistry at the University in Leipzig (Germany) and my Master thesis at the Helmholtz – Environmental Research Centre in Leipzig in the research group of Dr. Dietmar Schlosser. The aim of my Master thesis was to develop highly efficient enzyme (laccase)-based biocatalysts for wastewater treatment through immobilization of laccase redox mediators onto macroporous support (cryogels) by electron beam irradiation. There I gained knowledge about an electron beam-based immobilization technique which can also be used for enzyme immobilization. Furthermore, I investigated transformation products of enzymatic degradation of pollutants by Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (UPLC).


Tell us a bit about your PhD project in OXYTRAIN and your research interests.

My project in OXYTRAIN: Discovery of new cofactor-independent oxygenases

In recent years it has become clear that, in addition to cofactor-containing oxygenases, also oxygenases exist that do not contain nor require a cofactor. Yet, the knowledge of this special class of oxygenases is extremely limited which, currently, precludes the exploration of these biocatalysts for biotechnological applications.

The aim of my project is to elucidate the physiological function and the substrate range of novel cofactor-independent oxygenases that belong to the tautomerase superfamily. The objectives are (i) to identify new cofactor-independent oxygenases on basis of sequence and structure similarity to a cofactor-independent 4-hydroxyphenylenolpyruvate (HPP) monooxygenase, (ii) to express, purify and functionally characterize these new enzymes and (iii) to determine the X-ray crystal structure of the most interesting enzyme and confirm catalytic roles of key residues by protein mutagenesis.


My scientific interests

My interest in enzymes for industrial applications began to arise and develop during my Bachelor and Master studies. Enzymes are a fascinating tool to make industrial processes more efficient and more environmentally friendly. The understanding how enzymes work is fundamental to create efficient applicable biocatalysts. I am highly motivated to expand my knowledge in the direction of the characterization of oxidative enzymes and enzyme engineering to contribute to shaping the future of enzymes for industrial applications.


What do you expect from OXYTRAIN?

Being part of the OXYTRAIN program is a great opportunity to acquire and improve transferable skills and specific research techniques and, furthermore, to develop personally. Due to the academic and industrial network we will be able to build a personal professional network and collaborate close with the other ESRs within the program sharing new findings and ideas. I am looking forward to get a deeper understanding of oxygenases to boost the development of these enzymes for industrial applications.


What do you like to do in your free time, your hobbies, interests, what motivates you.

In my free time I like doing sports: I did equestrian vaulting for 10 years, practiced different martial arts and participated in my first half-marathon. I also enjoy hiking or bike tours with friends and I am always curious to try new sports and get to know new people and cultures. Another passion of mine is photographing and drawing.