Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Night Of The Living Enzyme: Nano-chambers Mimic Living Cells

Date:
November 29, 2006
Source:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
Inactive enzymes entombed in tiny honeycomb-shaped holes in silica -- nano-chambers that mimic conditions in living cells -- can spring to life, scientists discovered while attempting salvaging enzymes that had been in a refrigerator long past their expiration date. The finding opens up new possibilities for exploiting these enzyme traps in food processing, decontamination, biosensor design and any other pursuit that requires controlling catalysts and sustaining their activity.

Striking Gold: An electron microscopic image shows gold nanoparticles staining enzymes (tiny dark spots) trapped inside functionalized mesoporous silica chambers (larger blobs). (Color added. Credit: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Inactive enzymes entombed in tiny honeycomb-shaped holes in silica can spring to life, scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have found.

The discovery came after salvaging enzymes that had been in a refrigerator long past their expiration date. Enzymes are proteins that are not actually alive but come from living cells and perform chemical conversions.

To the research team's surprise, enzymes that should have fizzled months before perked right up when entrapped in a nanomaterial called functionalized mesoporous silica, or FMS. The result points the way for exploiting these enzyme traps in food processing, decontamination, biosensor design and any other pursuit that requires controlling catalysts and sustaining their activity.

"There's a school of thought that the reason enzymes work better in cells than in solution is because the concentration of enzymes surrounded by other biomolecules in cells is about 1,000 to 10,000 time more than in standard biochemistry lab conditions," said Eric Ackerman, PNNL chief scientist and senior author of a related study that appears today in the journal Nanotechnology. "This crowding is thought to stabilize and keep enzymes active."

The silica-spun FMS pores, hexagons about 30 nanometers in diameter spread across a sliver of material, mimic the crowding of cells. Ackerman, lead author Chenghong Lei and colleagues said crowding induces an unfolded, free-floating protein to refold; upon refolding, it reactivates and becomes capable of catalyzing thousands of reactions a second.

The FMS is made first, and the enzymes are added later. This is important, the authors said, because other schemes for entrapping enzymes usually incorporate the material and enzymes in one harsh mixture that can cripple enzyme function forever.

In this study, the authors reported having "functionalized" the silica pores by lining them with compounds that varied depending on the enzyme to be ensnared--amine and carboxyl groups carrying charges opposite that of three common, off-the-shelf biocatalysts: glucose oxidase (GOX), glucose isomerase (GI) and organophosphorus hydrolase (OPH).

Picture an enzyme in solution, floating unfolded like a mop head suspended in a water bucket. When that enzyme comes into contact with a pore, the protein is pulled into place by the oppositely charged FMS and squeezed into active shape inside the pore. So loaded, the pore is now open for business; substances in the solution that come into contact with the enzyme can now be catalyzed into the desired product. For example, GI turns glucose to fructose, and standard tests for enzyme activity confirmed that FMS-GI was as potent or better at making fructose as enzyme in solution. OPH activity doubled, while GOX activity varied from 30 percent to 160 percent, suggesting that the enzyme's orientation in the pore is important.

"It could be that in some cases the active site, the part of the enzyme that needs to be in contact with the chemical to be converted, was pointing the wrong way and pressed tightly against the walls of the pore," Ackerman said.

To show that the enzymes were trapped inside the FMS pores, the team stained the protein-FMS complex with gold nanoparticles and documented the enzyme-in-pore complex through electron microscopy. A spectroscopic analysis of the proteins squeezed into their active conformation turned up no new folds, evidence that they had neatly refolded rather than been forcibly wadded into the pore.

Ackerman said that this new understanding combined with new cell-free techniques--making hundreds of designer enzymes a day with components derived from cells--will speed the development of task-specific enzymes. This could lead to "enzyme-based molecular machines in nanomaterials that carry out complex biological reactions to produce energy or remediate toxic pollutants."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Night Of The Living Enzyme: Nano-chambers Mimic Living Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061129093842.htm>.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (2006, November 29). Night Of The Living Enzyme: Nano-chambers Mimic Living Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061129093842.htm
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Night Of The Living Enzyme: Nano-chambers Mimic Living Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061129093842.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. 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:
from the past week

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