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Nanoscaffolds speed up metabolic processes

NSF Award:

Enzymology of multi-enzyme systems on self-assembled surfaces  (Arizona State University)

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Cells use complex, multi-step, metabolic pathways both to derive energy and to make the molecules that are important to life. The geometric arrangement of many of the enzymes in these pathways improves both the speed and specificity of the overall process. However, very little is currently known about how position, orientation and enzyme ratio affects the overall activity of multiple enzyme systems. 

To learn more, researchers at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute organized multiple enzymes using DNA nanoscaffolds and showed that their approach could create efficient nanoscale catalytic complexes. The nanoscaffolds make it possible to systematically explore substrate transfer between enzymes. 

The research team discovered that at very close distances, the substrate transfer between enzymes suddenly becomes extremely efficient because the substrate can move directly along the surface of one enzyme to another. This exchange dramatically increases the rate of reaction. These studies have both advanced the current understanding of the role of enzymes in biological metabolic pathways and provided the tools and design principles to create efficient synthetic catalytic complexes.

A variety of areas could benefit from this research including bioenergy, biomedicine and industrial chemistry.   

Images (1 of )

  • multi-enzyme complexes on a dna scaffold exhibit greater activity than enzymes free in solution
  • builiding bridges between enzymes increases the options for functional enzyme complexes
Multi-enzyme complexes (A) exhibit greater activity than enzymes in solution (B).
Jinglin Fu, Minghui Liu, Neal Woodbury and Hao Yan, Arizona State University
Design options increase when bridges connect enzymes.
Jinglin Fu, Minghui Liu, Neal Woodbury and Hao Yan, Arizona State University

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