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
Enduring cold temperatures alters fat cell epigenetics
19.04.2018 | University of Tokyo
Full of hot air and proud of it
18.04.2018 | University of Pittsburgh
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.
Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy