Professor Gideon Davies, FMedSci, FRS

01904 328260

Structural Enzymology and Carbohydrate Chemistry

Research Summary

My research spans the disciplines of Chemistry and Biology, with a focus on the structural enzymology and chemical biology of proteins involved in the synthesis and degradation of carbohydrates.  Current projects include:

  • the enzyme discovery and the enzymology of biomass conversion, focusing on the human intestinal microbiota and on fungal and bacterial lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases;
  • the O-GlcNAc modification and its role in neurodegeneration;
  • glycan synthesis and degradation in health and disease, probing cancer viral invasion and lysosomal storage diseases;
  • opiate biosynthesis.

Further information on the Davies group

Enzyme mechanism and conformational analysis

Selected Recent Publications

  • Structural characterization of human heparanase reveals insights into substrate recognition
    Wu et al.,  Nature Struct Mol Biol 2015, Advanced Online Publication
  • Privateer: software for conformational validation of cyclic carbohydrate structures
    Agirre et al., Nature Struct Mol Biol 2015, 22, 833–834
  • A Convenient Approach to Stereoisomeric Iminocyclitols: Generation of Potent Brain-Permeable OGA Inhibitors
    Bergeron-Brlek et al.,  Angew Chemie Int Ed, early view online
  • Human gut Bacteroidetes can utilize yeast mannan through a selfish mechanism
    Cuskin et al., Nature, 2015, 517, 165–169
  • Evidence for a Boat Conformation at the Transition State of GH76 α-1,6-Mannanases—Key Enzymes in Bacterial and Fungal Mannoprotein Metabolism
    Thompson et al., Angew Chemie Int Ed, 2015, 54, 5378–5382 
  • Structure and boosting activity of a starch-degrading lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase
    Lo Leggio et al., Nature Communications 2015, 6, Article number 5961
  • A discrete genetic locus confers xyloglucan metabolism in select human gut Bacteroidetes
    J Larsbrink et al., Nature  2014   506, 498-502
  • Discovery and characterization of a new family of lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases
    G R Hemsworth et al., Nature Chem Biol.  2014. 10, 122-126


Gideon Davies received his PhD from the University of Bristol in 1990, and went on to postdoctoral research at EMBL Hamburg and CNRS Grenoble. In 1996 he received a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to work on Carbohydrate-Active Enzymes. He was made a Professor of the University of York in 2001.  He has won many awards including the 2015 Davy Medal of the Royal Society, the 2014 Khorana Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the 2010 Gabor Medal of the Royal Society. Gideon was elected a a Fellow of The Royal Society in 2010, and as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization the same year.  He was also elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014.