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: Structure of sodium channels different than previously believed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

Apr 16, 2014

Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs.

World's first successful visualisation of key coenzyme

Apr 16, 2014

Japanese researchers have successfully developed the world's first imaging method for visualising the behaviour of nicotine-adenine dinucleotide derivative (NAD(P)H), a key coenzyme, inside cells. This feat ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...