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Dr Bert Van Loo

Senior Lecturer

Department: Applied Sciences

Dr. Bert van Loo studied Molecular Sciences at Wageningen University (1994-1999) and obtained his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Groningen in 2006 (Supervisor: Prof. Dick Janssen). In 2005 he moved to the department of Biochemistry of the University of Cambridge to work as a post-doc in the lab of Prof. Florian Hollfelder. After a short stay at Uppsala university in Sweden in 2013 he moved to the institute for Evolution and Biodiversity at the University of Münster in Germany where he was a post-doctoral project leader within the Molecular Evolution and Bioinformatics group of Prof. Erich Bornberg-Bauer until 2019. In January 2020 he joined the department of applied sciences at Northumbria University as a senior lecturer in Biochemistry.

His main interests are within the wider theme of adaptive enzyme evolution and harnessing knowledge from in vivo adaptation to inform protein engineering strategies. He is studying the evolution of substrate specificity between phospho- and sulfohydrolases, as well as the evolution of enzymes that degrade environmental pollutants.

Bert Van Loo

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Dr. Bert van Loo’s main interests are within the wider theme of adaptive enzyme evolution. He studies both natural and artificial laboratory enzyme evolution, with particular interest in the adaptive evolutionary processes in relation to substrate specificity. He uses several model systems for these studies, most prominently the divergent evolution of phospho- and sulfohydrolases in the alkaline phosphatase and metallo-β-lactamase superfamilies. In addition to the latter, he is also looking into the evolution of enzymes that degrade xenobiotic compounds, in particular man-made environmental pollutants such as halogenated hydrocarbons and plastics. In addition to studying the evolution of these enzymes, both in nature and in the laboratory, he aims to harness the knowledge from in vivo adaptation to inform protein engineering strategies.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Balancing Specificity and Promiscuity in Enzyme Evolution: Multidimensional Activity Transitions in the Alkaline Phosphatase Superfamily, Van Loo, B., Bayer, C., Fischer, G., Jonas, S., Valkov, E., Mohamed, M., Vorobieva, A., Dutruel, C., Hyvönen, M., Hollfelder, F. 9 Jan 2019, In: Journal of the American Chemical Society
  • High-Throughput, Lysis-Free Screening for Sulfatase Activity Using Escherichia coli Autodisplay in Microdroplets, Van Loo, B., Heberlein, M., Mair, P., Zinchenko, A., Schüürmann, J., Eenink, B., Holstein, J., Dilkaute, C., Jose, J., Hollfelder, F., Bornberg-Bauer, E. 20 Dec 2019, In: ACS Synthetic Biology
  • Transition-State Interactions in a Promiscuous Enzyme: Sulfate and Phosphate Monoester Hydrolysis by Pseudomonas aeruginosa Arylsulfatase, Van Loo, B., Berry, R., Boonyuen, U., Mohamed, M., Golicnik, M., Hengge, A., Hollfelder, F. 12 Mar 2019, In: Biochemistry
  • Evolutionary repurposing of a sulfatase: A new Michaelis complex leads to efficient transition state charge offset, Miton, C., Jonas, S., Fischer, G., Duarte, F., Mohamed, M., van Loo, B., Kintses, B., Kamerlin, S., Tokuriki, N., Hyvönen, M., Hollfelder, F. 31 Jul 2018, In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • Structural and Mechanistic Analysis of the Choline Sulfatase from Sinorhizobium melliloti: A Class I Sulfatase Specific for an Alkyl Sulfate Ester, van Loo, B., Schober, M., Valkov, E., Heberlein, M., Bornberg-Bauer, E., Faber, K., Hyvönen, M., Hollfelder, F. 30 Mar 2018, In: Journal of Molecular Biology
  • Enzyme sub-functionalization driven by regulation, van Loo, B., Bornberg-Bauer, E. 14 Jun 2017, In: EMBO Reports
  • Specificity Effects of Amino Acid Substitutions in Promiscuous Hydrolases: Context-Dependence of Catalytic Residue Contributions to Local Fitness Landscapes in Nearby Sequence Space, Bayer, C., van Loo, B., Hollfelder, F. 6 Jun 2017, In: ChemBioChem
  • One-pot deracemization of sec-alcohols: Enantioconvergent enzymatic hydrolysis of alkyl sulfates using stereocomplementary sulfatases, Schober, M., Toesch, M., Knaus, T., Strohmeier, G., Van Loo, B., Fuchs, M., Hollfelder, F., Macheroux, P., Faber, K. 11 Mar 2013, In: Angewandte Chemie - International Edition
  • Catalytic promiscuity in Pseudomonas aeruginosa arylsulfatase as an example of chemistry-driven protein evolution, Luo, J., Van Loo, B., Kamerlin, S. 4 Jun 2012, In: FEBS Letters
  • Examining the promiscuous phosphatase activity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa arylsulfatase: A comparison to analogous phosphatases, Luo, J., van Loo, B., Kamerlin, S. 1 Apr 2012, In: Proteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics

PGR Supervision

Iñaki Pickering-Montoya A proposed circuit and model analysis of a dual compartmentalised circuit for the tuneable production of high-value materials via a bi-transfected chlamydomonas reinhardtii chassis Start Date: 01/10/2021


  • Biochemistry PhD October 13 2006
  • Biochemistry MSc March 31 1999

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