Violation of the rules of chemistry led to the discovery of a new synthesis method

Scientists have found that minor changes in the structure of an enzyme can significantly change its capabilities, turning it into an effective tool for the synthesis of complex chemical molecules..

Common enzymes have very «conservative» catalytic amino acids that facilitate a certain type of reaction. Therefore, there are such a huge number of them in nature. A group of chemists from the Universities of Nottingham and Bern decided to study the untouched area and modify the key catalytic residue in the active site of the acyltransferase..

As expected, as a result of even a minor mutation, the enzyme actually stopped cleaving esters. However, the researchers found that the biocatalyst instead began the ability to synthesize esters and other functional groups such as thioesters and amides.

Violation of the rules of chemistry led to the discovery of a new synthesis method

While such changes are meaningless from a nature standpoint, the expanded capabilities hold tremendous promise for efficiently and inexpensively producing a variety of beneficial chemicals for commercial purposes, the team said. For example, mutated enzymes can be used to make new drugs or food..

We also previously reported on the development of a sponge material to efficiently convert waste vegetable oil into biodiesel..

text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Shutterstock

Violation of the rules of chemistry led to the discovery of a new synthesis method

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