Ditte Hededam Welner

Ditte Hededam Welner

Senior Researcher & Group Leader

Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability

Technical University of Denmark


Building 220, room 504F

2800 Kgs. Lyngby

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Keywords High-throughput methods | Protein Chemistry | Enzyme Engineering | Structural Biology

Enzyme Engineering and Structural Biology


We develop enzyme biocatalysts for the industrial production of natural products used as e.g. aromas, fragrances, dyes, and pharmaceuticals. The existing industrial pipelines have large environmental footprints due to their use of petroleum-derived, hazardous materials and their generation of toxic waste streams. Therefore, replacing the current chemical synthesis routes with bio-based processes  including cell factories and chemo-enzymatic approaches will constitute a significant step towards a greener society.


In nature, many natural products are glycosylated by an enzyme class termed secondary metabolism glycosyltransferases (GTs). Glycosylation alters the physico-chemical properties of the natural product, including solubility, stability and bioavailability. We aim at harnessing this glycosylation activity for industrial purposes by tailoring secondary metabolism GTs for specific pipelines. Thus, we are engaged in a systematic study of secondary metabolism GT structural and functional determinants, to provide the framework for efficient secondary metabolism GT discovery and engineering.


We combine high-throughput enzyme discovery and evolution with structure-based rational engineering to elucidate the structural determinants of key enzymatic properties such as


  • Substrate specificity
  • Enzymatic efficiency
  • Thermostability and pH tolerance


Our core methods are X-ray crystallography, enzymology, and other classical protein chemistry techniques for biophysical characterization.

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