New process improves catalytic rate of enzymes by 3,000 percent

April 17, 2012

Light of specific wavelengths can be used to boost an enzyme's function by as much as 30 fold, potentially establishing a path to less expensive biofuels, detergents and a host of other products.

In a paper published in The Letters, a team led by Pratul Agarwal of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory described a process that aims to improve upon nature – and it happens in the blink of an eye.

"When light enters the eye and hits the pigment known as rhodopsin, it causes a complex chemical reaction to occur, including a conformational change," Agarwal said. "This change is detected by the associated protein and through a rather involved chain of reactions is converted into an electrical signal for the brain."

With this as a model, Agarwal's team theorized that it should be possible to improve the catalytic efficiency of reactions by attaching chemical elements on the surface of an enzyme and manipulating them with the use of tuned light.

The researchers introduced a light-activated molecular switch across two regions of the enzyme Candida antarctica lipase B, or CALB – which breaks down fat molecules -- identified through modeling performed on DOE's Jaguar supercomputer.

"Using this approach, our preliminary work with CALB suggested that such a technique of introducing a compound that undergoes a light-inducible conformational change onto the surface of the protein could be used to manipulate enzyme reaction," Agarwal said.

While the researchers obtained final laboratory results at industry partner AthenaES, computational modeling allowed Agarwal to test thousands of combinations of enzyme sites, modification chemistry, different wavelengths of light, different temperatures and photo-activated switches. Simulations performed on Jaguar also allowed researchers to better understand how the enzyme's internal motions control the catalytic activity.

"This modeling was very important as it helped us identify regions of the enzyme that were modified by interactions with chemicals," said Agarwal, a member of ORNL's Computer Science and Mathematics Division. "Ultimately, the modeling helped us understand how the mechanical energy from the surface can eventually be transferred to the active site where it is used to conduct the chemical reaction."

Agarwal noted that enzymes are present in every organism and are widely used in industry as catalysts in the production of biofuels and countless other every day products. Researchers believe this finding could have immense potential for improving enzyme efficiency, especially as it relates to biofuels.

Explore further: A Change for the better: Improving properties of enzymes

More information: "Engineering a Hyper-catalytic Enzyme by Photoactivated Conformation Modulation," dx.doi.org/10.1021/jz201675m

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kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (11) Apr 18, 2012
it causes a complex chemical reaction to occur, including a conformational change," Agarwal said. "This change is detected by the associated protein and through a rather involved chain of reactions is converted into an electrical signal for the brain."

You really have to have the strongest of faith in random processes to believe that such complexity could have "evolved".
Note how the researcher went about doing thousands of simulations to try out different interactions - all under intelligent guidance. Thinking that it will all happen by chance is simply called RELIGION.

ON a different note, I believe that in order to reap huge gains in solar energy conversion whilst still remaining in harmony with the environment, we'll need to rethink the rather simple processes we're currently using. I believe it'll take a much more elaborate conversion process that makes ample use of enzymes for the capture and transfer of photonic energy into a useful form. Think large scale entanglement.
depth
3.7 / 5 (9) Apr 18, 2012
stop using the creationist agenda here
Joez_Johnsmith
4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 18, 2012
seriously?? dude, kevintrs, i'm a drunk ass son of a bitch, and i still know i wouldn't want to be 100 feet from your smell cunt ass piece of shit! are you serious! haha.
aroc91
5 / 5 (2) Apr 18, 2012
Thinking that it will all happen by chance is simply called RELIGION.


Trololol
Mike_Massen
3 / 5 (8) Apr 18, 2012
kevinrtrs does seem to be pushing an agenda consistent with his impotent imagination of "permutation space"
You really have to have the strongest of faith in random processes to believe that such complexity could have "evolved".
Have you actually looked at permutation space or dismissed it arbitrarily because you are so emotionally attached & perhaps wish to ingratiate yourself in front of some deity ?

In any room there are literally billions of environments that enzymes, bacteria, phages or many types of chemicals interact, then add life-forms and this is multiplied again, Mate ! - try & get a grip with basic maths but at huge astronomical numbers applied to the microcosm...

Isn't it so obvious to intelligent people that evolution is combinatorial and foundational, once a pattern is set there are even more permutations even if that set pattern is transient from milliseconds to years - don't you appreciate evolution is subject to non random selection pressure - ie Survival !
Mike_Massen
2.7 / 5 (7) Apr 18, 2012
kevinrtrs is driving a proselytising agenda since he totally misunderstands or pretends to be ignorant of 'random' and 'permutation space' and selection pressure
You really have to have the strongest of faith in random processes to believe that such complexity could have "evolved".
If you look at any singular region or environment there are literally billions of means for bacteria, phages, enzymes and other chemicals to interact & with tremendous diversity ea second !

Nature has as much space & time as it needs, why limit nature's immense sources of random and non random interactions (ie Selection pressure) to the impotence of the limitations of your 1 Dimensional feeble imaginings !

Did you ever actually study probability & statistics & issues such as 'permutation space' in any formal way in conjunction with mathematics ? ever ? because you are dropping feeble intellectual bombs that fizzle so badly as if you have no formal education or basic understanding in this area at all !
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Apr 18, 2012
You really have to have the strongest of faith in random processes to believe that such complexity could have "evolved".

And you really have to have extraordinary faith to believe that an intelligent designer would create something as stupid as you.
Ethelred
4 / 5 (4) Apr 19, 2012
Kevin are you ever going to stop lying about evolution being random.

Natural Selection is NOT random. This has been pointed out to your time after time and you have yet to to show that is wrong. So you know you making one false statement time and again.

Ethelred

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