Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Describe Structure Of An Enzyme That Uses Iron To Make Hydrogen

Date:
December 4, 1998
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
The workings of an iron-laden bacterial enzyme could one day provide researchers with an inexpensive and stable catalyst to create hydrogen, according to scientists at Utah State University.

The workings of an iron-laden bacterial enzyme could one day provide researchers with an inexpensive and stable catalyst to create hydrogen, according to scientists at Utah State University.

With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), biochemists John Peters and Lance Seefeldt have made a detailed description of the structure of an enzyme known as CpI, found in the soil microorganism Clostridium pasteurianum. The results of their research on the structure and function of CpI are published in the December 4 issue of the journal Science.

CpI is a hydrogenase, a type of enzyme used by microorganisms to make molecular hydrogen (H2), or through reversing the reaction, break down H2 into protons and electrons. Peters and Seefeldt's study suggests a mechanism by which CpI uses atoms of iron as a means to catalyze the production of H2.

"The iron-only hydrogenase is basically a means to get rid of unwanted electrons," said Kamal Shukla, NSF program manager. "Clostridium pasteurianum uses CpI to convert protons and electrons into (H2), a waste product."

What is a waste product to some organisms might be an incredibly useful product for others. According to Peters, a better understanding of this enzymatic process interests not only biologists and biochemists, but also researchers of alternative energy sources.

"Hydrogen is often mentioned as a future fuel source because it is a renewable and clean-burning energy carrier," said Peters. "The biological production of hydrogen, then, represents a tremendous reserve of energy that we may tap through our understanding of the mechanisms that have evolved in nature."

Attaining the three-dimensional structure of enzymes like CpI may be the first step in tapping into that resource. Peters and Seefeldt depict CpI as a collection of 20 iron atoms arranged in clusters around a mushroom shaped framework. Electrons move in through the `stem' of the mushroom in a series of reactions between the iron clusters that pass electrons, like a molecular bucket brigade, towards the `cap' of the mushroom. The `cap' contains the active site of the enzyme, where the final reaction takes place.

At the active site, more clusters of iron atoms introduce electrons, two at a time, to two protons stripped from a single molecule of water. As newly formed molecules of hydrogen leave the enzyme, they make room for more electrons and protons to take their spot, providing the energy for the next reaction to take place.

"Hopefully, through knowing the structure of the iron-only hydrogenase, protein engineers can work on methods to increase the stability of the enzyme," said Peters. "Once in industrial use, such an efficient source of clean energy is likely to be both economically and environmentally significant."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Scientists Describe Structure Of An Enzyme That Uses Iron To Make Hydrogen." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981204074705.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (1998, December 4). Scientists Describe Structure Of An Enzyme That Uses Iron To Make Hydrogen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981204074705.htm
National Science Foundation. "Scientists Describe Structure Of An Enzyme That Uses Iron To Make Hydrogen." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981204074705.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) A new company allows customers to make copies of keys by simply uploading a couple of photos. But could it also be great for thieves? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) The Rockefellers — heirs to an oil fortune that made the family name a symbol of American wealth — are switching from fossil fuels to clean energy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Billions of dollars are being spent on a massive super sewer to take away London's vast output of waste, which is endangering the River Thames. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins