Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fungal Cleaning Crew

26.02.2013
Freiburg Chemists determine the structure of an enzyme that breaks down dyes

Fungi serve as a kind of natural cleaning crew for the ecosystem. They form enzymes that can degrade hazardous substances, converting natural as well as man-made toxins into harmless compounds.


Specimens of the edible fungus Jew’s ear on a tree. / Source: René Ullrich/IHI Zittau

For instance, they can help to break down synthetic dyes, which accumulate in great amounts during the production of textiles. Prof. Dr. Dietmar A. Plattner, Dr. Klaus Piontek, and Eric Strittmatter from the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the University of Freiburg and their colleagues from research groups at the International Graduate School of Zittau of the University of Dresden have determined the three-dimensional atomic structure of an enzyme of this kind, a dye-decolorizing peroxidase (DyP). Their findings have now been published in the renowned Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).

In nature, all organisms make use of enzymes in order to build up and break down vital substances. These biocatalysts are often superior to traditional chemical processes as they enable chemical reactions under especially mild conditions. Several fungal enzymes are commonly used in industry as a replacement for other chemicals. In clothing production, for example, they are the reagents responsible for giving blue jeans a so-called stonewashed or used look.

Plattner’s research team is studying several fungal enzymes and attempting to analyze their structure. The scientists hope that this will lead to a better understanding of how the enzymes function. Up until the end of 2010, the scientists were consortium members of the European Union project BIORENEW that was funded with a total of 15 million. They are now participating in the project BioIndustrie2021, which is receiving 1.1 euros in funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The Freiburg researchers are currently focusing their efforts on enzymes of the class heme peroxidase. In the future, they hope to use their findings to design custom-made enzymes for industrial applications, making many chemical processes more environmentally friendly.

The dye-decolorizing peroxidase (DyP) belongs to the class of heme peroxidases and is isolated from Jew’s ear, an edible fungus indigenous to Germany. Piontek and Strittmatter used x-ray crystallographic methods to elucidate the atomic structure of the enzyme. With the help of this model, they determined how the substrate molecules need to bind to the enzyme in order to be converted to other substances in a chemical reaction. While studying this mechanism, they discovered an apparent contradiction: The binding pocket is only large enough for some of the substrate molecules – for the smaller chemical compounds that are converted by the enzyme. However, it is too small for larger and bulky substrates such as synthetic dyes. Hence, there must be another binding site on the surface of the enzyme that larger molecules can dock onto. The members of Plattner’s team succeeded in locating this site. In addition, they identified the amino acid that enables the enzyme to interact with the substrate and transfers an electron from the substrate molecule to the center of the enzyme. This is the second example of a so-called redox-active surface amino acid to be found in fungal enzymes to date.

Original publication: http://www.jbc.org/content/288/6/4095

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Dietmar A. Plattner
Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761 / 203-6013
E-Mail: Dietmar.Plattner@chemie.uni-freiburg.de
Dr. Klaus Piontek
Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761 / 203-6036
E-Mail: Klaus.Piontek@ocbc.uni-freiburg.de

| University of Freiburg
Further information:
http://www.jbc.org/content/288/6/4095
http://www.uni-freiburg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

nachricht Migrating Cells: Folds in the cell membrane supply material for necessary blebs
23.11.2017 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>