Richard C. Holz

Professor, Department of Chemistry
Provost, Colorado School of Mines

The Holz research group interfaces the general areas of bioinorganic chemistry, mechanistic enzymology, and biophysical chemistry.  The Holz group is interested in structure/function studies of metalloenzymes some of which are important industrial catalysts or antimicrobial targets.  Within these studies, students in the Holz group utilize a wide variety of biochemical and biophysical methods such as enzyme kinetics, site-directed mutagenesis, isothermal titration calorimetry, UV-Vis, NMR and EPR spectroscopies.  Current projects in the Holz group center on an NSF sponsored project to study the catalytic mechanism of nitrile hydratases (NHases) as well as a second project that examines the catalytic mechanism of the zinc dependent chlorothalonil hydrolytic dehalogenase from pseudomonas sp. CTN-3 (Chd).

Office: Guggenheim Hall, Third Floor
Phone: 303.273.3003


  • • BS – Bemidji State University
    • MS – University of Minnesota-Duluth
    • Ph.D. – The Pennsylvania State University
    • Postdoctoral Study – NIH Fellow – University of Minnesota

Prof. Richard C. Holz’s Google Scholar Profile



  • Lankathilaka, K.P. Wasantha; Stein, Natalia; Holz*, Richard C.; Bennett*, Brian “Cellular Maturation of an Iron-Type Nitrile Hydratase using EPR Spectroscopy” J. Biol. Inorg. Chem., 2019, in press.
  • Yang, Xinhang; Bennett, Brian; Liu*, Dali; Holz*, Richard C. “Insights into the Catalytic Mechanism of a Bacterial Hydrolytic Dehalogenase that Degrades the Fungicide Chlorothalonil” J. Biol. Chem., 2019, in press.
  • Yang, Xinhang; Bennett, Brian; Holz*, Richard C. “Analyzing the Function of the Insert Region Found Between the a- and b-Subunits in the Eukaryotic Nitrile Hydratase from Monosiga Brevicollis Arch. Biochem. Biophys., 2018, 657, 1-7.
  • Heath, Tahirah; Lutz, Marlon; Reid, Cory; Guzman, Estefany; Herbert, Claire; Nocek, Boguslaw; Holz, Richard C.; Olsen, Kenneth; Ballicora*, Miguel; Becker*, Daniel P. “Practical Spectrophotometric Assay for the dapE-Encoded N-Succinyl-L,L-Diaminopimelic Acid Desuccinylase, a Potential Antibiotic Target” PLoS ONE, 2018, 13, e0196010.
  • Nocek, Boguslaw P.; Reidl, Cory; Starus, Anna; Heath, Tahirah; Bienvenue, David; Osipiuk, Jurek; Jedrzejczak, Robert P.; Joachimiak, Andrzej; Becker, Daniel P.; Holz*, Richard C. “Structural Evidence for a Major Conformational Change Triggered by Substrate Binding in DapE Enzymes: Impact on the Catalytic Mechanism” Biochemistry, 2018, 57, 574–584.
  • Stein, Natalia; Gumataotao, Natalie; Hajnas, Natalia; Wu, Rui; Lankathilaka, K.P. Wasantha; Bornscheuer, Uwe T.; Liu, Dali; Fielder*, Adam T.; Holz*, Richard C.; Bennett*, Brian “Multiple States of the Nitrile Hydratase from Rhodococcus Equi TG328-2: Structural and Mechanistic Insights from EPR and DFT Studies” Biochemistry, 2017, 56, 3068-3077.
  • Gumataotao, Natalie; Lankathilaka, K.P. Wasantha; Bennett, Brian; Holz*, Richard C. “The Iron-Type Nitrile Hydratase Activator Protein is a GTPase” Biochem. J., 2017, 474, 247-258.
  • Martinez, Salette; Yang, Xinhang; Bennett, Brian; Holz*, Richard C. “A Cobalt-Containing Eukaryotic Nitrile Hydratase” Biochem. Biophys. Acta, 2017, 1865, 107-112.


National Science Foundation (CHE-1808711) 8/15/2018 to 8/14/2021, “Collaborative Research on the Catalytic Mechanism of Nitrile Hydration Catalysts.”  The goals of this research are to elucidate the catalytic mechanism of nitrile hydratases (NHases, EC and delineate the steps of metallocenter assembly in Fe-type NHases.  NHases can hydrate not only nitriles found in biological systems but also a wide range of synthetic nitriles.  Hence NHases are extensively used in preparative organic chemistry and in the industrial production of acrylamide and nicotinamide.  NHases have also proven useful in the cleanup of nitrile-based chemicals and pesticides from the environment.   Knowledge of the mechanisms that underscore their chemical reactivity and applications could provide an impetus for the development of new biocatalysts.  The research and education effort help promote teaching, training and learning for graduate and undergraduate students, particularly those from underrepresented groups and also enhances the infrastructure for research and education.