Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have designed a potential roadmap to use a biosynthetic pathway taken from a common microorganism to produce compounds that could serve as precursors to explosives or components in everyday devices such as liquid crystal displays or anti-cancer agents.
In a presentation at the 227th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Illinois doctoral student Wenjuan Zha reported how the fatty acid biosynthetic pathway of Brevibacterium ammoniagenes, a bacterium commonly found in the human intestinal tract, was used for the first time with glucose -- rather than petroleum or other chemicals from non-renewable resources -- to produce triacetic acid lactone (TAL).
In a study published on line late last month, ahead of regular print publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Zha and colleagues detailed their proposed biochemical mechanism, which allows the fatty acid synthase pathway (FAS-B) to use glucose to make TAL. TAL is an energetic precursor for TATB, an explosive much more stable and sensitive than TNT.
Jim Barlow | UIUC
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