Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Atomic structure of the mammalian “fatty acid factory” determined

08.09.2008
Promising targets for drug development

Mammalian fatty acid synthase is one of the most complex molecular synthetic machines in human cells. It is also a promising target for the development of anti-cancer and anti-obesity drugs and the treatment of metabolic disorders. Now researchers at ETH Zurich have determined the atomic structure of a mammalian fatty acid synthase. Their results have just been published in Science magazine.

Synthesis of fatty acids is a central cellular process that has been studied for many decades. Fatty acids are used in the cell as energy storage compounds, messenger molecules and building blocks for the cellular envelope. Until now, individual steps of this process have been investigated using isolated bacterial enzymes. However, in higher organisms – except plants – fatty acid synthesis is catalyzed by large multifunctional proteins where many individual enzymes are brought together to form a “molecular assembly line”.

The atomic structure is the result of many years of research

As described in this week’s issue of “Science” magazine, researchers at ETH Zurich, supported by the National Centre of Excellence in Research (NCCR) in Structural Biology at the Swiss National Science Foundation, determined the high-resolution structure of a mammalian fatty acid synthase using data collected at the Swiss Light Source (SLS) of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland.

These results crown the efforts begun in 2001 to determine the detailed structures of fatty acid synthases in higher organisms by a relatively small group of scientists at ETH Zurich. The group, consisting of Timm Maier, Marc Leibundgut and Simon Jenni in the laboratory of Prof. Nenad Ban, published their first papers describing architectures of fungal and mammalian fatty acid synthases two years ago. That was followed last year by two papers on the atomic structures of fungal fatty acid synthases and the mechanism of substrate shuttling and delivery in these multi-enzymes.

Now this latest publication describes the atomic structure of the mammalian fatty acid synthase. These results reveal the details of all catalytic active sites responsible for iterative fatty acid synthesis and show how the flexibility of this large multi-enzyme is used for transferring substrates from one enzymatic active site to the next. The structure can be considered a milestone for future research in the field.

Fatty acid synthases as drug targets?

In addition to the fundamental scientific interest in the function of this multi-enzyme that plays a central role in primary metabolism, mammalian fatty acid synthase is also considered a promising drug target. Although most fat accumulated in animals and humans is delivered to cells by ingestion and not by de novo synthesis, compounds that inhibit the function of the mammalian fatty acid synthase induce weight reduction in animals, showing potential for the treatment of obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes and coronary disorders. Furthermore, due to the increased requirement for fatty acid synthesis in cancer cells, inhibitors of this enzyme have anti-tumor activity, making fatty acid synthase an attractive drug target for anti-cancer therapy.

Multi-enzymes: the ultimate organic chemists

Mammalian fatty acid synthase belongs to a large family of multi-enzymes, some of which are responsible for the synthesis of complex natural products with antibiotic, anti-cancer, anti-fungal and immunosuppressive properties that are of outstanding medical relevance. The structure of mammalian fatty acid synthase reveals how different catalytic domains are excised or inserted in various members of this family to yield multi-enzymes capable of synthesizing a large variety of chemical products. The structure will facilitate the design of molecular assembly lines for the production of improved compounds. In particular, the engineering of novel multi-enzymes for the production of modified antibiotics is important in the fight against resistant strains of bacteria.

Literature reference:
Science 5 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5894, pp. 1315 – 1322, doi: 10.1126/science.1161269

Roman Klingler | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cc.ethz.ch
http://www.cc.ethz.ch/media/picturelibrary/news/Fettsaeure_Synthase
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/321/5894/1315

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>