Prof Dirk Opperman
Microbiology and Biochemistry
IB 61

Short CV

2008 PhD Biochemistry UFS
2008-2009 Post Doctoral Researcher Max Planck Institute (KOFO) Germany
2010-2011 Lecturer Biochemistry UFS

2011-2017 Senior Lecturer Biochemistry UFS

2018-Present Associate Professor Biochemistry UFS



Postdoctoral positions available in structural biology (GCRF-funded or ERA-NET). Please email CV to

Training and bursaries available for 3rd year Biochemistry students interested in pursuing postgraduate studies in Biocatalysis. Minimum requirement of 70% for BOC second year modules. Please email CV/academic record to 




Publications (Short List)

Publications (Since 2010)

44. Ramírez, C.S., Tolmie, C., Opperman, D.J., González, P.J., Rivas, M.G., Brondino, C.D. and Ferroni, F.M. (2021) Copper nitrite reductase from Sinorhizobium meliloti 2011: Crystal structure and interaction with the physiological versus a nonmetabolically related cupredoxin-like mediator. Protein Science. 30: 2310– 2323. DOI:10.1002/pro.4195.

43. Aschenbrenner, J.C., Ebrecht, A., Tolmie, C., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2021) Structure of the fungal hydroxylase, CYP505A30, and rational transfer of mutation data from CYP102A1 to alter regioselectivity. Catalysis Science and Technology 11: 7359-7367. DOI: 10.1039/d1cy01348c.

42. Baek, M., DiMaio, F., Anishchenko, I., Dauparas, J., Ovchinnikov, S., Lee, G.R., Wang, J., Cong, Q., Kinch, L.N., Dustin Schaeffer, R., Millán, C., Park, H., Adams, C., Glassman, C.R., DeGiovanni, A., Pereira, J.H., Rodrigues, A.V., Van Dijk, A.A., Ebrecht, A.C., Opperman, D.J., Sagmeister, T., Buhlheller, C., Pavkov-Keller, T., Rathinaswamy, M.K., Dalwadi, U., Yip, C.K., Burke, J.E., Christopher Garcia, K., Grishin, N.V., Adams, P.D., Read, R.J. and Baker, D. (2021) Accurate Prediction of Protein Structures and Interactions Using a Three-Track Neural Network. Science 373: 871–876. DOI:10.1126/science.abj8754.

41. Hollmann, F., Opperman, D.J. and Paul, C.E. (2021) Biocatalytic Reduction Reactions from a Chemist`s Perspective. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 60:5644-5665. DOI: 10.1002/anie.202001876

40. Ebrecht, A.C., Aschenbrenner, J.C., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2021) Biocatalytic synthesis of non-vicinal aliphatic diols. Org. Biomol. Chem. 19:439-445. DOI: 10.1039/d0ob02086a.

39. Nett, N., Duewel, S., Schmermund, L., Benary, G.E., Ranaghan, K., Mulholland, A., Opperman, D.J. and Hoebenreich, S. (2021) A robust and stereocomplementary panel of ene-reductase variants for gram-scale asymmetric hydrogenation. Mol. Catal. 502:111404. DOI: 10.1016/j.mcat.2021.111404.

38. Wilbers, D., Brehm, J., Lewis, R.J., van Marwijk, J., Davies, T.E., Morgan, D.J., Opperman, D.J., Smit, M.S., Alcalde, M., Kotsiopoulos, A., Harrison, S.T.L., Hutchings, G.J. and Freakley, S.J. (2021) Controlling product selectivity with nanoparticle composition in tandem chemo-biocatalytic styrene oxidation. Green Chemistry 23:4170-4180. DOI: 10.1039/d0gc04320f. 

37.    Maseme, M.J., Pennec, A., van Marwijk, J., Opperman, D.J. and Smit, M.S. (2020) CYP505E3: A Novel Self-Sufficient w-7 In-Chain Hydroxylase. Angewandte Chemie - DOI: 10.1002/anie.202001055

36.    Tolmie, C., do-Aido Machado, R., Ferroni, F.M., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2020) Natural Variation in the ‘Control Loop’ of BVMOAFL210 and Its Influence on Regioselectivity and Sulfoxidation. Catalysts 10:339.

35.     Guarneri, A., Westphal, A.H., Leertouwer, J., Lunsonga, J., Franssen, M.C.R, Opperman, D.J., Hollmann, F., van Berkel, W.J.H. and Paul, C.E. (2020) Flavoenzyme-mediated Regioselective Aromatic Hydroxylation with Coenzyme Biomimetics. ChemCatChem 12:1368-1375.

34.     Ebrecht, A.C., van der Bergh, N., Harrison, S.T.L. Smit, M.S., Sewell, B.T. and Opperman, D.J. (2019) Biochemical and structural insights into the cytochrome P450 reductase from Candida tropicalis. Scientific Reports 9:20088.

33.     Freakly, S.J., Kochius, S., van Marwijk, J., Fenner, C., Lewis, R.J., Baldenius, K., Marias, S.S., Opperman, D.J., Harrison, S.T.L., Alcalde, M., Smit, M.S. and Hutchings, G.J. (2019) A chemo-enzymatic oxidation cascade to activate C-H bonds with in situ generation of H2O2. Nature Communications 10:4178

32.     Vorster, A., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2019) One-pot conversion of cinnamaldehyde to 2-phenylethanol via a biosynthetic cascade reaction. Organic Letters 21:7024-7027.

31.     Engel, J., Mthethwa, K.S., Opperman, D.J. and Kara S. (2019) Characterization of new Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenases for lactonizations in redox-neutral cascades. Mol. Catal. 468:44-51.

30.     Josa-Culleré, L., Lahdenperä, A.S.K., Ribaucourt, A., Höfler, G.T., Gargiulo, S., Liu, Y-Y., Xu J-H., Cassidy, J., Paradisi, F., Opperman, D.J., Hollmann, F. and Paul, C.E. (2019) Synthetic Biomimetic Coenzymes and Alcohol Dehydrogenases for Asymmetric Catalysts 9:207.

29.     Opperman, D.J., Murgida, D.H., Dalosto, S.D., Brondino, C.D. and Ferroni F.M. (2019) A three-domain copper-nitrite reductase with a unique sensing loop. IUCrJ 6:248-258.

28.    Tolmie, C., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2019) Native roles of Baeyer–Villiger monooxygenases in the microbial metabolism of natural compounds. Natural Product Reports. 36:326-353.

27.    Dithugoe, C.D. van Marwijk, J., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2019) An alcohol dehydrogenase from the short-chain dehydrogenases/reductases family of enzymes for the lactonization of 1,6-hexanediol. ChemBioChem. 20:96-102.

26.    Tolmie, C., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2018) Alternative Splicing of the Aflatoxin-Associated Baeyer–Villiger Monooxygenase from Aspergillus flavus: Characterisation of MoxY Isoforms. Toxins. 10:521.

25.    Kochius, S., van Marwijk, J., Ebrecht, A.C., Opperman, D.J. and Smit, M.S. (2018) Deconstruction of the CYP153A6 Alkane Hydroxylase System: Limitations and Optimization of In Vitro Alkane Hydroxylation. Catalysts. 8:531.

24.     Hollmann, F., Kara, S., Opperman, D.J. and Wang, Y. (2018) Biocatalytic synthesis of lactones and lactams. Chemistry – An Asian Journal. 13:3601-3610.

23.    Opperman, D.J. (2017) Structural investigation into the C-terminal extension of the ene-reductase from Ralstonia (Cupriavidus) metallidurans. Proteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics 85:2252-2257.

22.    Mthethwa, K.S., Kassier, K., Engel, J., Kara, S., Smit, M.S. and Opperman D.J. (2017) Fungal BVMOs as alternatives to cyclohexanone monooxygenase. Enz. Microbial. Technol. 106:11-17. 

21.    Ferroni, F.M., Tolmie, C., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2017) Alkyl formate ester synthesis by a fungal Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenase. ChemBioChem 18:515-517.

20.    Tosstorff, A., Kroner, C., Opperman, D.J., Hollmann, F. and Holtmann, D. (2017) Towards electro enzymatic processes involving old yellow enzymes and mediated cofactor regeneration. Eng. Life Sci. 17:71-76.

19.    Ferroni, F.M., Tolmie, C., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2016) Structural and catalytic characterization of a fungal Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenase. PloS one 11:e0160186.

18.    Kara, S., Schrittwieser, J.H., Gargiulo, S., Ni, Y., Yanase, H., Opperman, D.J., van Berkel, W.J.H. and Hollmann, F. (2015) Complete enzymatic oxidation of methanol to carbon dioxide: Towards more eco-efficient regeneration systems for reduced nicotinamide cofactors. Adv. Synth. Catal 357:1687-1691. (IF 5.66)

17.    Pennec, A., Hollmann, F., Smit., M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2015) One-pot conversion of cycloalkanes to lactones. ChemCatChem. 7:236-239. (IF 4.56)

16.    Pennec, A., Jacobs, C.L., Opperman, D.J. and Smit, M.S. (2015) Revisiting cytochrome P450 mediated oxyfunctionalization of linear and cyclic alkanes. Adv. Synth. Catal. 357:118-130. (IF 5.66).

15.     Holtmann, D., Fraaije, M.W. Arends, I.W.C.E., Opperman, D.J. and Hollmann, F. (2014) The taming of oxygen: Biocatalytic oxyfunctionalizations. Chem. Commun. 50:13180-13200. (IF 6.38)

14.     Ferroni, F.M., Smit, M.S. and Opperman, D.J. (2014) Functional divergence between closely related Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenases from Aspergillus flavus. (2014). J. Mol. Catal. B. Enzym. 107:47-54. (IF 2.82)

13.     Litthauer, S., Gargiulo, S., van Heerden, E., Hollmann, F., Opperman, D.J. (2014) Heterologous expression and characterization of the Ene-reductases from Deinococcus radiodurans and Ralstonia metallidurans. J. Mol. Catal. B. Enzym. 99:89-95. (IF 2.82)

12.     Onstott, T.C., Magnabosco C., Aubrey, A.D., Burton, A.S., Dworkin, J.P., Elsila, E., Grunsfeld, S., Cao, B.H., Hein, J.E., Glavin, D.P., Kieft, T.L., Silver, B.J., Phelps, T.J., van Heerden, E., Opperman, D.J. and Bada, J.L. (2014) Does aspartic acid racemization constrain the depth limit of the subsurface biosphere? Geobiology, 12:1-19. (IF 3.04)

11.     Paul, C.E., Gargioulo, S, Opperman, D.J., Lavandera, I, Gotor-Fernández, V., Gotor, V., Taglieber, A., Arends, I.W.C.E and Hollmann F. (2013) Mimicking nature: Synthetic nicotinamide cofactors for C=C bioreduction using enoate reductases. Org. Lett. 15:180-183. (IF 6.14)

10.     Kille, S., Acevedo-Rocha, C.G., Parra, L.P., Zhang, Z-G., Opperman, D.J., Reetz, M.T. and Acevedo, J.P. (2013) Reducing codon redundancy and screening effort of combinatorial protein libraries created by saturation mutagenesis. ACS Synth. Biol. 2:83-92.

9.     Gargiulo, S., Opperman, D.J., Hanefeld, U., Arends, I.W.C.E and Hollmann, F. (2012) A biocatalytic redox isomerisation. Chem. Commun., 48:6630-6632. (IF 6.38)

8.     Gudiminchi, R.K., Randall, C., Opperman, D.J., Olaofe, O., Harrison, S.T.L., Albertyn, J. and Smit, M.S. (2012).Whole-cell hydroxylation of n-octane by Escherichia coli strains expressing the CYP153A6 operon. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 96:1507-1516. (IF 3.28)

7.     Bernard J., van Heerden, E., Arends, I.W.C.E., Opperman, D.J. and Hollmann, F. (2012) Chemoenzymatic reduction of conjugated C=C double bonds. ChemCatChem, 4:196-199. (IF 5.18)

6.     Opperman, D.J. and Reetz, M.T. (2010) Towards Practical Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenases: Design of cyclohexanone monooxygenase with enhanced oxidative stability. ChemBioChem, 11:2589-2596. (IF 3.74)

5.     Opperman, D.J., Sewell, B.T., Litthauer, D., Isupov, M.N., Littlechild, J.A. and van Heerden, E. (2010) Crystal structure of a thermostable old yellow enzyme from Thermus scotoductus SA-01. BBRC 393:426-431


Structure-Function and Evolutionary Relationships of Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenases

Collaboration Dr S Kara (TU Hamburg-Harburg - Germany)
Funding National Research Foundation (NRF) SA

Enzymatic cascade reactions

Collaboration Prof MS Smit (UFS – SA) and Dr F Hollmann (TU Delft – Netherlands)
Funding Technology and Innovation Agency (TIA) SA 

X-ray structure determination of cytochrome P450s

Collaboration Prof MS Smit (UFS – SA) 


Structure-Function of Ene-Reductases from Directed Evolution studies

Collaboration Dr F Hollmann (TUDelft –Netherlands) and Dr S Höbenreich (Philipps-Universität Marburg - Germany)

Area(s) of Interest

Protein Structure / X-ray crystallography
Directed Evolution

Courses Presented

Protein Biochemistry (BOCP3724)

BSc Hons General Techniques Course

BSc Biochemistry Hons. Advanced Protein Structure and Function (BOCE6844)

Community Service

Service Learning



Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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