Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Findings Could Aid Efforts To Harness Nature For Making Drugs

Date:
January 29, 2004
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Chemical engineers at Purdue University have shown how to make yeast cells double the activity and boost productivity of a type of enzyme plants need to create important chemicals such as anticancer compounds.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Chemical engineers at Purdue University have shown how to make yeast cells double the activity and boost productivity of a type of enzyme plants need to create important chemicals such as anticancer compounds.

Related Articles


The work is related to efforts aimed at developing techniques to use plants and microorganisms as natural factories for producing pharmaceuticals. Such techniques would be safer and more environmentally friendly than conventional methods for making drugs, which often require hazardous chemicals and steel "reactors" operated at high pressures and temperatures. The enzymes from plants and other organisms typically function in water near room temperature under ordinary pressure.

The Purdue researchers demonstrated that altering the nutrients and carefully controlling fermentation time caused yeast cultures to produce an enzyme called ferulate 5-hydroxylase that has twice its normal rate of activity, which increases the enzyme's productivity.

"Activity relates to the amount of product that can be synthesized in a given time," said John Morgan, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Purdue. "So we could make more than twice the amount of product per hour."

Findings are detailed in a paper appearing in the Jan. 20 issue of the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering, published by John Wiley & Sons Inc. The paper was written by Morgan and Purdue doctoral student Hanxiao Jiang.

The enzyme is a member of a family of enzymes called cytochrome P450, which plants need to produce numerous chemical compounds.

Plants ordinarily produce small quantities of "flavonoids," which are beneficial chemicals known as antioxidants. So researchers are developing ways to boost production of the chemicals by transferring vital enzymes from plants to microorganisms. Because P450 enzymes are "biocatalysts" that enable an organism to produce the beneficial drugs, researchers are trying to develop techniques that cause plants to make greater quantities of the enzymes and enzymes that are more productive.

The method pursued by the Purdue researchers was to focus on a gene responsible for producing ferulate 5-hydroxylase.

Altering the composition of nutrients fed to the yeast cultures and controlling the fermentation time caused the gene to be "expressed," producing 45 percent more of the enzyme while doubling the enzyme's activity.

Increasing the quantity and activity of various cytochrome P450 enzymes might enable scientists to use plants and microorganisms like E. coli and baker's yeast to one day commercially produce pharmaceuticals. More progress is needed, however, before it will be practical to use plants and plant enzymes in microorganisms as natural pharmaceutical factories, Morgan said.

"I wouldn't consider this a major breakthrough, but it does represent significant progress in improving the expression of the enzyme," he said. "I think there is certainly room for greater expression of these P450 enzymes."

The same technique could be used to increase the production of other P450 enzymes, Morgan said.

"The plant kingdom contains a large and relatively untapped diversity of P450s that are needed to create thousands of valuable natural products," he said.

In ongoing work, the Purdue researchers also are trying to develop methods for coaxing the enzymes to make drugs not normally produced by plants.

"We are feeding them what's known as substrate analogs, or compounds that are structurally similar to the compound that this enzyme will normally recognize and react with but are somewhat structurally different," Morgan said. "Therefore, if the enzyme recognizes this compound, it will produce a novel product, or a product that's never been synthesized before.

"From a scientific standpoint, we want to better understand precisely how organisms make certain compounds, and from an engineering standpoint, we want to devise a strategy for manipulating the organism so that it makes the chemicals we want it to make."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Findings Could Aid Efforts To Harness Nature For Making Drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040129072040.htm>.
Purdue University. (2004, January 29). Findings Could Aid Efforts To Harness Nature For Making Drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040129072040.htm
Purdue University. "Findings Could Aid Efforts To Harness Nature For Making Drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040129072040.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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