Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Secrets of unique enzyme may illuminate ancient ecosystems

Date:
April 29, 2010
Source:
Montana State University
Summary:
Chemists have determined the structure of an intermediate form of a unique enzyme that participates in some of the most fundamental reactions in biology.

This shows the pathway for inserting an iron-sulfide cluster during a complex assembly.
Credit: Image courtesy of David Mulder

Montana State University chemists have determined the structure of an intermediate form of a unique enzyme that participates in some of the most fundamental reactions in biology.

The discovery could lead to understanding life in ancient ecosystems. It could also play a role in producing alternate fuels and fighting pollution, according to MSU researchers who published their findings April 25 in the advance online publication of the journal Nature.

Lead author David Mulder is a doctoral student in biochemistry. Co-authors are postdoctoral researcher Eric Boyd, graduate student Ranjana Sarma, recent graduate Rachel Lange, postdoctoral researcher James Endrizzi, and faculty members Joan Broderick and John Peters. All are in MSU's Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Peters is director of the research center. Broderick is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Complex enzymes that contain iron-sulfide clusters are found everywhere in nature, and they're involved in many fundamental processes, the researchers say. Such processes include carbon dioxide fixation, nitrogen fixation and hydrogen metabolism.

The Montana State researchers focused their study on one of three enzymes involved in hydrogen metabolism. They wanted to understand the structure of the enzyme and how it assembled one of the more complex clusters in biology. In the process, they saw a definite step-by-step process that may also have occurred in some manner in minerals. Broderick said the fact that the same process could have occurred in two different realms -- biology and chemistry -- is both fascinating and significant.

The discovery lends itself to discussions of about evolution and environments that harbored early life, she noted. Peters said early life that couldn't assemble complicated clusters of iron and sulfide may have lived vicariously on transformations that occurred in minerals.

"This really brings together and implicates that there are general themes for the assembly of complex iron-sulfur centers in biology that likely were important for life's beginnings and impacts the way we think about iron-sulfur mineral reactivity before life emerged," Peters said.

He added that figuring out the enzyme's structure and how it assembles clusters of iron and sulfide may help scientists produce hydrogen in the lab. If they can simulate the synthesis of the important features of the enzyme in the lab, they may use it to produce renewable fuels.

Researchers said the enzyme they studied is widely distributed in nature, but the enzyme for their study came from algae manufactured in an MSU lab. The scientists inserted the gene for the enzyme into bacteria and mass-produced it so they'd have enough enzyme for their study.

The enzyme study was a two-year project funded by NASA and the U.S. Air Force. NASA wanted to learn more about the origins of life, and the Air Force was interested in bio-energy, Peters said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. David W. Mulder, Eric S. Boyd, Ranjana Sarma, Rachel K. Lange, James A. Endrizzi, Joan B. Broderick, John W. Peters. Stepwise [FeFe]-hydrogenase H-cluster assembly revealed in the structure of HydAΔEFG. Nature, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nature08993

Cite This Page:

Montana State University. "Secrets of unique enzyme may illuminate ancient ecosystems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426092801.htm>.
Montana State University. (2010, April 29). Secrets of unique enzyme may illuminate ancient ecosystems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426092801.htm
Montana State University. "Secrets of unique enzyme may illuminate ancient ecosystems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426092801.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. 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