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Harry Brumer

From Glycoscience



Principal Investigator (PI): Prof. Harry Brumer, VR Rådsforskare

Research area: Carbohydrate enzymology and applications

Curriculum vitae :: Research interests :: Key publications :: All publications :: Current personnel :: Alumni & theses :: Collaborators :: Teaching

Research interests

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The focus of our Carbohydrate Enzymology Research Group is to understand the way in which particular enzymes act to alter the structure of polysaccharides found in biomass (especially plant cell walls and wood fibers), and to harness these enzymes for applications. We are primarily concerned with the carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes) which synthesize (eg., glycosyl transferases, transglycosidases) or degrade (eg., glycoside hydrolases) glycosidic bonds.

Fundamental studies and applications of these enzymes are especially topical for improving the use of renewable biomass resources in the biofuels/bioenergy, wood fiber, textile, agricultural, and food industries.

Research tools and methods

We employ a wide variety of tools to understand more about enzymes relevant to biomass utilization and fiber modification:

Organic chemistry and chemical biology
Synthesis of modified substrates as probes of enzyme mechanism or to introduce specific chemical functionality into carbohydrate polymers.
Molecular phylogeny, molecular biology, and heterologous protein expression
Identification, cloning, and recombinant expression of genes encoding enzyme targets with unique biological/biochemical function and/or application potential.
Protein biochemistry
Purification and basic biochemical characterization of native and heterologously expressed enzymes.
Mechanistic enzymology
Thorough examination of enzyme mechanisms using specifically designed substrates and detailed kinetic analyses.
Enzyme engineering
Rational modification of enzymes for various applications using knowledge of protein structure and enzyme mechanism.
Protein mass spectrometry/proteomics
Identification and analysis of proteins and enzymes involved in cell wall polysaccharide biosynthesis. In addition, we perform medium-throughput protein quality-control analysis for the Structural Genomics Consortium and have previously done the same for the Human Protein Atlas project.
Protein/enzyme structure-function analysis
Via collaboration with world-leading protein crystallographers, we use the above tools to develop a better understanding of how protein structure dictates enzyme catalytic properties.

Key enzymes

We are particularly interested in the xyloglucan endo-transglycosylases (XET) and xyloglucan endo-hydrolases (XEH) involved in the remodelling of the cell wall polysaccharide xyloglucan. Our work on XETs exemplifies our approach of using knowledge gained through fundamental enzymology to guide the development of new enzyme applications. A concise summary of our cellulose biomaterials research can be found on the Polysaccharide Biomased Materials Center News Harvest.

Funding sources

Our work has been funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Research Council Formas, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, VINNOVA, the KTH Biofibre Materials Centre (BiMaC), the European Commission (EDEN, ECOTARGET), and the Knut & Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Key publications

(All publications)

  • Baumann, Eklöf, Michel, Kallas, Teeri, Czjzek and Brumer (2007) Structural evidence for the evolution of xyloglucanase activity from xyloglucan endo-transglycosylases: Biological implications for cell wall metabolism. Plant Cell, 19, 1947-1963. DOI:10.1105/tpc.107.051391.
  • Teeri, Brumer, Daniel and Gatenholm (2007) Biomimetic engineering of cellulose-based materials. Trends Biotech., 25, 299-306. DOI:10.1016/j.tibtech.2007.05.002
  • Zhou, Greffe, Baumann, Malmström, Teeri, and Brumer, H. (2005) The use of xyloglucan as a molecular anchor for the elaboration of polymers from cellulose surfaces: a general route for the design of biocomposites. Macromolecules, 38, 3547-3549. DOI:10.1021/ma047712k
  • Greffe, Bessueille, Bulone and Brumer H. (2005) Synthesis, preliminary characterization, and application of novel surfactants from highly branched xyloglucan oligosaccharides. Glycobiology, 15, 437-445. DOI:10.1093/glycob/cwi013
  • Sundqvist, Stenvall, Berglund, Ottosson, and Brumer (2007) A general, robust method for the quality control of intact proteins using LC-ESI-MS. J. Chrom. B, 852, 188-194. DOI:10.1016/j.jchromb.2007.01.011

Current personnel

Post-doctoral scientists

Please click here for individual contact information.

Post-graduate students

Please click here for individual contact information.

Undergraduate researchers

None at this time.

Alumni and theses from the group

Active collaborations

Throughout the years we have had fruitful collaborations with numerous scientists both nationally and internationally, whose names can be found as co-authors in our joint peer-reviewed scientific publications.

In additional to those within the Glycoscience group and Biomime center, we currently have active collaborations with the following scientists and their groups:


I have been active in teaching at the undergraduate and Master's level as a lecturer in several courses. In particular, I am currently the organizer of and primary lecturer in the course BB2420 - Glycobiology and Carbohydrate Technology, which replaced BB2190 - Enzyme Technology (2006-2008) in September 2009. More information on the Glycobiology and Carbohydrate Technology course may be found here.