Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Outsmarting algae -- RIT scientist finds the turn-off switch

14.09.2011
Professor André Hudson's research could advance algaecide development
Algaecide is no crime.

Consider that some strains of algae produce toxins lethal to wildlife, fish and plants. Even the less harmful varieties suck oxygen out of water, suffocating living creatures in lakes, ponds, pools and aquariums. Recent algal blooms in the Great Lakes, for instance, threaten critical ecosystems.

Rochester Institute of Technology scientist André Hudson and colleagues have figured out how to outsmart the organism.

"We have recently deciphered the structure of an essential enzyme in the photosynthetic organism that is a target for algaecide development," says Hudson, assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences in RIT's College of Science.

All organisms that undergo photosynthesis—plants (multi-cellular), algae (single-cellular) and certain kinds of bacteria—produce lysine, an amino acid, or a building block of protein for growth and development. Humans and animals cannot make lysine and must acquire the essential amino acid directly or indirectly from fruits and vegetables.

Hudson discovered a new pathway for lysine synthesis in plants and certain pathogenic bacteria in 2006 while working as a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University. His current research is aimed at finding targets for the enzymes associated with the lysine biosynthesis pathways.

"Since humans do not possess any of the enzymatic machinery to make lysine—and now that we know that is it an essential enzyme in all photosynthetic organisms—we can develop a compound that would block the enzyme from functioning in algae. It won't affect humans because we don't have the pathway(s) to begin with," Hudson says.

An important first step for algaecide development was the crystallization of the enzyme conducted by Hudson's colleague Renwick Dobson, professor at the University of Melbourne and University of Canterbury.

The process of protein crystallography separates proteins from the solution in which they are suspended. The next step shoots an X-ray beam through the freed crystals to reveal, with the help of computer algorithms, how the protein is folded in its three-dimensional configuration.

"This is important because once you know where the substrate—the key—fits into the enzyme—the lock—one can design a pseudo substrate compound that looks like the natural substrate but it's a better 'key for the lock.' It will prevent the natural key from opening the door, inhibiting or blocking the enzyme from functioning."

Solving the three-dimensional structure for the algae enzyme gives scientists a map for developing an algaecide that will target the organism without harming other plant life growing in the same environment.

Undergraduate student Irma Girón co-authored both papers with Hudson and Dobson. The biotechnology major presented a poster at the American Society for Plant Biologists meeting, in August in Minnesota, describing how the algae enzyme can be used as an algaecide target.

"It's not typical for an undergraduate students to have two published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals before they graduate," Hudson says. "Irma was very instrumental in getting both publications."

The research team submitted their information revealing the structure of the algae enzyme to the Protein Data Bank, a public database available to scientists around the world.

"The database is a source for scientists who can take this information to the next step to find the right inhibitors for the enzyme and produce an actual algaecide, if they are willing and able," Hudson says.

Hudson's results were published recently in Acta Crystallographica Section F and PLoS ONE.

Susan Gawlowicz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rit.edu

Further reports about: Hudson RIT algal bloom amino acid essential enzyme

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes
15.01.2018 | Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen

nachricht New method to map miniature brain circuits
15.01.2018 | The Francis Crick Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

Im Focus: Autoimmune Reaction Successfully Halted in Early Stage Islet Autoimmunity

Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München have discovered a mechanism that amplifies the autoimmune reaction in an early stage of pancreatic islet autoimmunity prior to the progression to clinical type 1 diabetes. If the researchers blocked the corresponding molecules, the immune system was significantly less active. The study was conducted under the auspices of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and was published in the journal ‘Science Translational Medicine’.

Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease in childhood and adolescence. In this disease, the body's own immune system attacks and destroys the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fachtagung analytica conference 2018

15.01.2018 | Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume

15.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

A matter of mobility: multidisciplinary paper suggests new strategy for drug discovery

15.01.2018 | Life Sciences

New method to map miniature brain circuits

15.01.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>