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Microbial world's use of metals mostly unmapped
Date:7/19/2010

s is much slower. Simply stated, it involves genetically sequencing a microbe, identifying the proteins encoded by its genes, and structurally characterizing each protein.

"Standard methods of identifying metalloprotiens can take years," says Yannone. "By directly surveying all microbial proteins for metals we can rapidly identify the majority of metalloprotiens within any cell."

In addition to gaining a better understanding of the biochemical diversity of microbes, the team's new metal-hunting technique could expedite the search for new biochemical capabilities in microbial life that can be harnessed for clean energy development, carbon sequestration, and other applications.

"If you want to degrade cellulose to make biofuel, and you know the enzymes involved require a specific metal-driven chemistry, then you can use this technique to find those enzymes in microbes," says Yannone.

Adds Tainer, "Knowing that all of these metal-containing proteins are out there, waiting to be found, is kind of like being in a candy store. We might discover new proteins that we can put to use."


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Contact: Dan Krotz
dakrotz@lbl.gov
510-486-4019
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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