Skip to comments.Unlocking New Talents in Nature: Protein Engineers Create New Biocatalysts
Posted on 12/30/2012 1:17:16 PM PST by neverdem
Protein engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have tapped into a hidden talent of one of nature's most versatile catalysts. The enzyme cytochrome P450 is nature's premier oxidation catalyst -- a protein that typically promotes reactions that add oxygen atoms to other chemicals. Now the Caltech researchers have engineered new versions of the enzyme, unlocking its ability to drive a completely different and synthetically useful reaction that does not take place in nature.
The new biocatalysts can be used to make natural products -- such as hormones, pheromones, and insecticides -- as well as pharmaceutical drugs, like antibiotics, in a "greener" way.
"Using the power of protein engineering and evolution, we can convince enzymes to take what they do poorly and do it really well," says Frances Arnold, the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at Caltech and principal investigator on a paper about the enzymes that appears online in Science. "Here, we've asked a natural enzyme to catalyze a reaction that had been devised by chemists but that nature could never do."
Arnold's lab has been working for years with a bacterial cytochrome P450. In nature, enzymes in this family insert oxygen into a variety of molecules that contain either a carbon-carbon double bond or a carbon-hydrogen single bond. Most of these insertions require the formation of a highly reactive intermediate called an oxene.
Arnold and her colleagues Pedro Coelho and Eric Brustad noted that this reaction has a lot in common with another reaction that synthetic chemists came up with to create products that incorporate a cyclopropane -- a chemical group containing three carbon atoms arranged in a triangle. Cyclopropanes are a necessary part of many natural-product intermediates and pharmaceuticals, but nature forms them through a complicated series of steps that...
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencedaily.com ...
Here’s some slick chemistry.
So, you can make beer really fast with this enzyme.
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