Scientists engineer space-age molecules from nature's blueprints

Apr 05, 2013 by Bill Hathaway
Yale scientists engineer space-age molecules from nature’s blueprints
Credit: Patrick Lynch, Yale University

The enzyme needed to introduce the key micronutrient selenium into bacteria looks something like a space station with 10 different docking stations.

The docking stations (in brown) are representations of tiny genetic instruction manuals known as tRNAs or .

By editing or changing these docking stations on the protein, Yale researchers led by Dieter Söll, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysiology and Biochemistry, have shown they can enhance function of a protein to produce of antioxidants crucial to .

The research, published in the April 5 issue of the journal Science, illustrates the potential power of synthetic biology to produce enhanced biological products not found in nature.

For more information on the of the selenocysteine enzyme and a three-D movie of its structure, visit the website.

Explore further: A new synthetic amino acid for an emerging class of drugs

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