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 Synthetic cells make long-distance calls
17.10.2019 | Rice University

nachricht Gene mutation in the chloride channel triggers rare high blood pressure syndrome
17.10.2019 | Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

Im Focus: Novel Material for Shipbuilding

A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.

The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...

Im Focus: Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Analysis of Galileo's Jupiter entry probe reveals gaps in heat shield modeling

17.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Creating miracles with polymeric fibers

17.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Synthetic cells make long-distance calls

17.10.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>