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 How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

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 we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>