Working with an enzyme that degrades anti-cancer drugs in humans, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill biochemists and colleagues have made a discovery that they believe eventually could help improve such drugs’ design and effectiveness.
The scientists have shown that the enzyme protein can be made to "fly through the vapor phase" -- from which solvent water is totally absent -- without changing its structure.
When a solution containing the enzyme was introduced as a fine spray into a vacuum created in a mass spectrometer in the laboratory, normal solvent molecules were completely evaporated, leaving bare, charged molecules known as ions, the researchers said. The protein ions were trapped in the extremely high vacuum for seconds, but in the new experiments, a single water molecule remained undisturbed, which was a surprise since no one ever saw that before. "This suggests how we might change an inhibitor molecule to make it fit the enzyme more perfectly and hence be more effective in blocking that enzyme’s action in destroying anticancer drugs," said Dr. Richard V. Wolfenden, Alumni Distinguished professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the UNC School of Medicine.
David Williamson | EurekAlert!
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