Developing enzymes to clean up pollution by explosives

Oct 09, 2009

Scientists at the University of York have uncovered the structure of an unusual enzyme which can be used to reverse the contamination of land by explosives.

The discovery, by scientists in the York Laboratory and the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products, will support the development of plants that can help tackle pollution caused by royal demolition explosive, also known as RDX.

Researchers at York have identified bacteria that use RDX as a food source and used that knowledge to develop transgenic plants that can draw pollutants out of the soil and break them down.

The latest findings, published in the , focus on the XplA enzyme which plays an important role in that process.

Dr Gideon Grogan, from the York Structural Biology Laboratory, said: "The biological process for tackling the pollution caused by RDX already exists but we need to find ways of making it work faster and on the scale required.

"This research significantly improves our understanding of the structure of this enzyme and is therefore an important step towards exploiting its unusual properties."

Professor Neil Bruce, from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products, said: "RDX is toxic and a possible carcinogen so it is important to identify ways of stopping it polluting land and water supplies.

"We have already had significant success in engineering plants that can perform this task and this research will help further refine that technique."

More information: The research 'The 1.5 Ĺ structure of XplA-heme, an unusual cytochrome-P450 heme domain that catalyses reductive biotransformation of royal demolition explosive (RDX)' can be read in full at: www.jbc.org/content/early/2009/08/19/jbc.M109.031559.abstract

Source: University of York

Explore further: A closer look at a deadly bacterium sets the stage for new vaccines

Related Stories

'Corrective genes' closer thanks to enzyme modification

Jul 28, 2009

Scientists from the Université de Montréal and McGill University have re-engineered a human enzyme, a protein that accelerates chemical reactions within the human body, to become highly resistant to harmful ...

Recommended for you

What happens inside a membrane

May 20, 2015

A new SISSA study has achieved two important results with a single effort: to devise an innovative method to analyse the structure of biological proteins immersed in their physiological context, and to closely ...

Biomedical sensors for disease detection made simple

May 19, 2015

Healthcare researchers are increasingly focused on the early detection and prevention of illnesses. Early and accurate diagnosis is vital, especially for people in developing countries where infectious diseases ...

Studying dynamics of ion channels

May 18, 2015

Scientists from the Vaziri lab at the Vienna Biocenter, together with colleagues at the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics at the University of Chicago, have developed a method using infrared spectroscopy ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.