Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ORNL Fundamental Discovery Casts Enzymes in New Light

10.11.2011
A tree outside Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Pratul Agarwal’s office window provided the inspiration for a discovery that may ultimately lead to drugs with fewer side effects, less expensive biofuels and more.

Just as a breeze causes leaves, branches and ultimately the tree to move, enzymes moving at the molecular level perform hundreds of chemical processes that have a ripple effect necessary for life.

Previously, protein complexes were viewed as static entities with biological function understood in terms of direct interactions, but that isn’t the case. This finding, published today in PLoS Biology, may have enormous implications.

“Our discovery is allowing us to perhaps find the knobs that we can use to improve the catalytic rate of enzymes and perform a host of functions more efficiently,” said Agarwal, a member of the Department of Energy laboratory’s Computer Science and Mathematics Division.

Making this discovery possible was ORNL’s supercomputer, Jaguar, which allowed Agarwal and co-author Arvind Ramanathan to investigate a large number of enzymes at the atomistic scale.

The researchers found that enzymes have similar features that are entirely preserved from the smallest living organism – bacteria -- to complex life forms, including humans.

“If something is important for function, then it will be present in the protein performing the same function across different species,” Agarwal said. “For example, regardless of which company makes a car, they all have wheels and brakes.”

Similarly, scientists have known for decades that certain structural features of the enzyme are also preserved because of their important function. Agarwal and Ramanathan believe the same is true for enzyme flexibility.

“The importance of the structure of enzymes has been known for more than 100 years, but only recently have we started to understand that the internal motions may be the missing piece of the puzzle to understand how enzymes work,” Agarwal said. “If we think of the tree as the model, the protein move at the molecular level with the side-chain and residues being the leaves and the protein backbone being the entire stem.”

This research builds on previous work in which Agarwal identified a network of protein vibrations in the enzyme Cyclphilin A, which is involved in many biological reactions, including AIDS-causing HIV-1.

While Agarwal sees this research perhaps leading to medicines able to target hard to cure diseases such as AIDS, he is also excited about its energy applications, specifically in the area of cellulosic ethanol. Highly efficient enzymes could bring down the cost of biofuels, making them a more attractive option.

Funding for this research was provided by ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program. Ramanathan was a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University when this work began and now also works at ORNL. The paper is titled “Evolutionarily conserved linkage between enzyme fold, flexibility and catalysis.”

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science.
Image: http://www.ornl.gov/info/press_releases/photos/striking_image.png
Caption: This cartoon-like image provides a representation for the internal motions coupled to the catalytic step of the enzyme Cyclophilin A. The substrate bound at the active site is shown in cyan sticks and the highly flexible regions in the enzyme are highlighted in a tube-like representation. The transparent tubes indicate the directionality of the motion. The colors on the tube indicate the extent to which these regions move,

with red and blue regions representing maximum and minimum mobility, respectively. Hydrogen bond interactions from the surface of the enzyme connect all the way to the active site and are indicated as yellow dashes. The interactions and the internal motions in Cyclophilin A are conserved from bacteria to humans.

NOTE TO EDITORS: You may read other press releases from Oak Ridge National Laboratory or learn more about the lab at http://www.ornl.gov/news. Additional information about ORNL is available at the sites below:

Twitter - http://twitter.com/oakridgelabnews

RSS Feeds - http://www.ornl.gov/ornlhome/rss_feeds.shtml

Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakridgelab

YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/user/OakRidgeNationalLab

LinkedIn - http://www.linkedin.com/companies/oak-ridge-national-laboratory

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/Oak.Ridge.National.Laboratory

| Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ornl.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tag it EASI – a new method for accurate protein analysis
20.06.2018 | 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: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

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...

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

Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Could this material enable autonomous vehicles to come to market sooner?

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>