Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA catalysts do the work of protein enzymes

19.03.2013
Illinois chemists have used DNA to do a protein’s job, creating opportunities for DNA to find work in more areas of biology, chemistry and medicine than ever before.

Led by Scott Silverman, a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the researchers published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ideally, researchers would like to be able to design and build new catalysts from scratch that can do exactly what they want. Many enzymes make small modifications to the building blocks of proteins, amino acids, which can create large changes in a finished protein. However, designing – or even modifying – protein enzymes is a very difficult task, thanks to their complexity and size.

“Protein enzymes are the workhorses of biology,” Silverman said. “They do most of the catalytic activity. Our idea to use another kind of catalyst, artificial DNA sequences, to modify the side chains on proteins, which therefore affects their biological function.”

One of the most important – and difficult – reactions in nature is the addition or removal of a phosphate group. In the realm of proteins, the amino acids serine and tyrosine can have phosphate added to or removed from them, which can alter the protein’s function or turn enzyme activity on or off. Without help from catalysts, such reactions take a very long time to occur – on the order of thousands to millions of years. So nature uses enzymes called kinases or phosphatases to catalyze these reactions.

Silverman’s group identified artificial DNA catalysts that can do phosphatase’s job of removing phosphate from serine and tyrosine. Demonstrating that DNA can catalyze such difficult reactions is an important step forward in designing and using DNA catalysts.

“At this point, this is basic science. We’re trying to figure out, what kind of reactions can DNA catalyze? And how do we find DNA catalysts that can catalyze these reactions?” Silverman said.

To find the DNA catalysts that can perform a phosphatase reaction, the researchers used a process called in vitro selection. This method searches through vast numbers of DNA sequences to identify the few that could perform a specific activity. The researchers then synthesize those DNA strands and use them for various applications.

“We believe that DNA catalysts can be a very useful tool in the future to study these kinds of protein modifications,” said graduate student and co-author Jagadeeswaran Chandrasekar. “To have DNA that you can synthesize on a machine and do catalytic activity on large molecules like proteins is very exciting. We can make fresh new DNA sequences, without requiring a natural starting point, and perform important reactions.”

The researchers tested their DNA catalysts’ activity in the presence of other large, non-specific proteins, to find out if they would function in an environment resembling the cell. The DNA catalysts were not bothered by the extra company, giving the researchers hope that one day their DNA catalysts could be used for practical applications in vivo.

Next, the researchers will continue to refine the in vitro selection process and hope to identify more DNA catalysts, designing and building molecules to perform specific functions.

“This kind of finding is enabling because it shows that DNA catalysis of biologically interesting processes is possible,” Silverman said, “and with this outcome we can have confidence that the broader objectives of this kind of research are likely to be achievable.”

The National Institutes of Health, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the National Science Foundation supported this work. Silverman also is a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the U. of I.

Editor’s notes:
To reach Scott Silverman, call 217-244-4489; email sks@illinois.edu.
The paper, “Catalytic DNA with phosphatase activity,” will be available
on PNAS Early Edition this week.

Liz Ahlberg | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tag it EASI – a new method for accurate protein analysis
19.06.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries
19.06.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries

19.06.2018 | Life Sciences

New material for splitting water

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>