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The rapid progress in structural and molecular biology over the past fifteen years has allowed chemists to access the structures of enzymes, of their complexes and of mutants. This wealth of structural information has led to a surge in the interest in enzymes as elegant chemical catalysts. Enzymology is a distinguished field and has been making vital contributions to medicine and basic science long before structural biology. This review for the Colworth Medal Lecture discusses work from the author's laboratory. This work has been carried out in collaboration with many other laboratories. The work has mapped out the chemical mechanisms and structures of interesting novel enzymes. The review tries to highlight the interesting chemical aspects of the mechanisms involved and how structural analysis has provided a detailed insight. The review focuses on carbohydrate-processing pathways in bacteria, and includes some recent data on an integral membrane protein.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochemical Society Transactions


Portland Press Ltd.

Publication Date





647 - 654