Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fundamental discovery casts enzymes in new light

Date:
November 10, 2011
Source:
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Summary:
A tree outside an office window provided the inspiration for a discovery that may ultimately lead to drugs with fewer side effects, less expensive biofuels and more.

A tree outside Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Pratul Agarwal's office window provided the inspiration for a discovery that may ultimately lead to drugs with fewer side effects, less expensive biofuels and more.

Related Articles


Just as a breeze causes leaves, branches and ultimately the tree to move, enzymes moving at the molecular level perform hundreds of chemical processes that have a ripple effect necessary for life. Previously, protein complexes were viewed as static entities with biological function understood in terms of direct interactions, but that isn't the case. This finding, recently published in PLoS Biology, may have enormous implications.

"Our discovery is allowing us to perhaps find the knobs that we can use to improve the catalytic rate of enzymes and perform a host of functions more efficiently," said Agarwal, a member of the Department of Energy laboratory's Computer Science and Mathematics Division.

Making this discovery possible was ORNL's supercomputer, Jaguar, which allowed Agarwal and co-author Arvind Ramanathan to investigate a large number of enzymes at the atomistic scale.

The researchers found that enzymes have similar features that are entirely preserved from the smallest living organism -- bacteria -- to complex life forms, including humans.

"If something is important for function, then it will be present in the protein performing the same function across different species," Agarwal said. "For example, regardless of which company makes a car, they all have wheels and brakes."

Similarly, scientists have known for decades that certain structural features of the enzyme are also preserved because of their important function. Agarwal and Ramanathan believe the same is true for enzyme flexibility.

"The importance of the structure of enzymes has been known for more than 100 years, but only recently have we started to understand that the internal motions may be the missing piece of the puzzle to understand how enzymes work," Agarwal said. "If we think of the tree as the model, the protein move at the molecular level with the side-chain and residues being the leaves and the protein backbone being the entire stem."

This research builds on previous work in which Agarwal identified a network of protein vibrations in the enzyme Cyclphilin A, which is involved in many biological reactions, including AIDS-causing HIV-1.

While Agarwal sees this research perhaps leading to medicines able to target hard to cure diseases such as AIDS, he is also excited about its energy applications, specifically in the area of cellulosic ethanol. Highly efficient enzymes could bring down the cost of biofuels, making them a more attractive option.

Funding for this research was provided by ORNL's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. Ramanathan was a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University when this work began and now also works at ORNL. The paper is titled "Evolutionarily conserved linkage between enzyme fold, flexibility and catalysis."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Arvind Ramanathan, Pratul K. Agarwal. Evolutionarily Conserved Linkage between Enzyme Fold, Flexibility, and Catalysis. PLoS Biology, 2011; 9 (11): e1001193 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001193

Cite This Page:

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Fundamental discovery casts enzymes in new light." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111109093941.htm>.
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (2011, November 10). Fundamental discovery casts enzymes in new light. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111109093941.htm
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Fundamental discovery casts enzymes in new light." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111109093941.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A California-based startup has designed new law enforcement technology that aims to automatically alert dispatch when an officer's gun is unholstered and fired. Two law enforcement agencies are currently testing the technology. (Oct. 24) 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