Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Structure of a microbial hydrogen engine

27.10.2011
New results on biological hydrogen conversion published in Nature by UniCat researcher

Molecular hydrogen is discussed as promising renewable energy source and attractive alternative to fossil fuels. Many microorganisms exploit the beneficial properties of hydrogen already since more than two billion years. They accommodate dedicated enzymes that either split or evolve molecular hydrogen according to the specific metabolic requirements of the cell.

These hydrogen-converting biocatalysts are called hydrogenases and occur in nature in different varieties. Most hydrogenases become inactivated or even destroyed in the presence of molecular oxygen. This intrinsic property represents a serious problem regarding biotechnological application. However, some hydrogenases maintain their catalytic activity in the presence of oxygen.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists headed by the UniCat researchers Oliver Lenz and Bärbel Friedrich from Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin and Patrick Scheerer and Christian Spahn from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin now succeeded in solving the first X-ray crystal structure of a hydro-genase that produces hydrogen even at atmospheric oxygen concentration.

The X-ray crystal structure allows detailed insights into the three-dimensional architecture of the enzyme and its metal cofactors which participate in catalysis. The results have been published in Nature online (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature10505). Interestingly, the hydrogenase contains a novel iron-sulfur center which acts as an electronic switch in the course of detoxification of detrimental oxygen. With this discovery, the scientists could substantiate the hypothesis that this particular group of hydro-genases is able to convert both, hydrogen and oxygen in a catalytic manner. During catalysis, oxygen becomes reduced to harmless water.

The new results are particularly relevant for fundamental research. More-over, also the biotechnological application of hydrogenases, e.g. solar-driven hydrogen production by photosynthetic microorganisms and enzyme-driven biological fuel cells, may profit from the new findings. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the novel iron-sulfur center will inspire chemists to design model compounds with improved catalytic properties.

UniCat
“Unifying Concepts in Catalysis” (UniCat) is the Cluster of Excellence within the framework of the German Initiative for Excellence researching the economically important field of catalysis. More than 250 chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers from four universities and two Max Planck research institutes from Berlin and Potsdam are involved in this interdisciplinary research network. The Cluster is hosted by the Technische Universität Berlin. The subject areas covered range from the chemical conversion of natural and biogas, the activation of carbon dioxide and the creation of hydrogen from light and water, to the synthesis of active ingredients using enzymes.

Published in: Fritsch, J., P. Scheerer, S. Frielingsdorf, S. Kroschinsky, B. Friedrich, O. Lenz & C. M. Spahn. The crystal structure of an oxygen-tolerant hydrogenase uncovers a novel iron-sulphur centre. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature10505 (2011)

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Oliver Lenz, Institut für Biologie / Mikrobiologie der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany, Phone: +49 (0) 30/2093 8173, E-mail: oliver.lenz@cms.hu-berlin.de

Dr. Martin Penno, UniCat Cluster of Excellence, Public Relations Officer
Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany, Phone: + 49 (0) 30/314-28 592, E-mail: martin.penno@tu-berlin.de

Stefanie Terp | idw
Further information:
http://www.tu-berlin.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>