Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Renewable fuel: Clearing a potential road block to bisabolane

Date:
January 12, 2012
Source:
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Summary:
Researchers have determined the three-dimensional crystal structure of a protein that is key to boosting the microbial-based production of bisabolane as a clean, green and renewable biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel fuel.

JBEI researchers determined the structure of the AgBIS enzyme and found it to consist of three helical domains, the first three-domain structure ever found in a synthase of sesquiterpenes. This discovery holds importance for advanced biofuels and other applications.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The recent discovery that bisabolane, a member of the terpene class of chemical compounds used in fragrances and flavorings, holds high promise as a biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel fuel has generated keen interest in the green energy community and the trucking industry. Now a second team of researchers with the U.S Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has determined the three-dimensional crystal structure of a protein that is key to boosting the microbial-based production of bisabolane as an advanced biofuel.

The JBEI research team, led by bioengineers Paul Adams and Jay Keasling, solved the protein crystal structure of an enzyme in the Grand fir (Abies grandis) that synthesizes bisabolene, the immediate terpene precursor to bisabolane. The performance of this enzyme -- the Abies grandis α-bisabolene synthase (AgBIS) -- when engineered into microbes, has resulted in a bottleneck that hampers the conversion by the microbes of simple sugars into bisabolene.

"Our high resolution structure of AgBIS should make it possible to design changes in the enzyme that will enable microbes to make bisabolene faster," says Adams, a leading authority on x-ray crystallography. "It should also enable us to engineer out inhibition effects that slow throughput, and perhaps also engineer the enzyme to produce other kinds of fuels similar to bisabolane."

Adams, who heads JBEI's Technologies Division, is the corresponding author of a paper describing this work in the Cell Press journal Structure. The paper is titled "Structure of a Three-Domain Sesquiterpene Synthase: A Prospective Target for Advanced Biofuels Production." Co-authoring it with Adams and Keasling were Ryan McAndrew, Pamela Peralta-Yahya, Andy DeGiovanni, Jose Pereira and Masood Hadi.

JBEI is one of three DOE Bioenergy Research Centers established by DOE's Office of Science to advance the technology for the commercial production of advanced biofuels. It is a multi-institutional partnership led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and headquartered in Emeryville, CA.

This past fall, JBEI researchers identified bisabolane as a potential new advanced biofuel that could replace D2 diesel, today's standard fuel for diesel engines, with a clean, green, renewable alternative that's produced in the United States. Using the tools of synthetic biology, the researchers engineered strains of bacteria and yeast to produce bisabolene from simple sugars, which was then hydrogenated into bisabolane. While showing much promise, the yields of bisabolene have to be improved for microbial-based production of bisabolane fuel to be commercially viable.

"The inefficient terpene synthase enzyme is one of the bottlenecks in the metabolic pathway used by the engineered microbes," says Peralta-Yahya, a lead member of the earlier JBEI team as well as the current team. "Knowing the AgBIS crystal structure will guide us in engineering it for improved catalytic efficiency and stability, which should bring our bisabolene yields closer to economic competitiveness."

Peralta-Yahya and her colleagues determined that the AgBIS enzyme consists of three helical domains, the first three-domain structure ever found in a synthase of sesquiterpenes -- terpene compounds that contain 15 carbon atoms. The discovery of this unique structure holds importance on several fronts, as co-lead author of the Structure paper McAndrew explains.

"That we found the structure of AgBIS to be more similar to diterpene (20 carbon terpene compounds) synthases not only provides us with insight into the function of these less well characterized enzymes, it also provides us with clues to the evolutionary heritage as the archetypal three-domain terpenoid synthases became two-domain sesquiterpene synthases in plants. Furthering our knowledge of the structures and functions of terpenoid synthases may prove to have abundant practical applications aside from advanced biofuels because these enzymes produce a wide variety of specialized chemicals."

Solving the three-dimensional crystal structure of AgBIS was made possible by the protein crystallography capabilities of Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS), a DOE Office of Science national user facility for synchrotron radiation, and the first of the world's third generation light sources. For this work, the JBEI team used three of the five protein crystallography beamlines operated by the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology (BCSB) -- beamlines 8.2.1, 8.2.2, and 5.0.3.

"We needed to use multiple beamlines because we collected data on several crystals -- the protein by itself, and the protein with different inhibitors/cofactors," says Adams, who headed the BCSB from 2004 to 2011. "Also, the approach we used to solve the AgBIS structure required high flux tunable x-rays such as those provided at 8.2.1 and 8.2.2, which are superbend beamlines."

This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. RyanP. McAndrew, PamelaP. Peralta-Yahya, Andy DeGiovanni, JoseH. Pereira, MasoodZ. Hadi, JayD. Keasling, PaulD. Adams. Structure of a Three-Domain Sesquiterpene Synthase: A Prospective Target for Advanced Biofuels Production. Structure, 2011; 19 (12): 1876 DOI: 10.1016/j.str.2011.09.013

Cite This Page:

DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Renewable fuel: Clearing a potential road block to bisabolane." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120110140227.htm>.
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (2012, January 12). Renewable fuel: Clearing a potential road block to bisabolane. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120110140227.htm
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Renewable fuel: Clearing a potential road block to bisabolane." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120110140227.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) 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:
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