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NIH grants enable energy studies
Date:11/19/2007

Robert G. Kranz, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, has been awarded two grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study pathways in bioenergy conversion. One is a long-term NIH R01 renewal titled "Cytochrome c Biogenesis", and it is for $1,203,250. It started on August 1. The renewal award means that NIH has funded Kranz continuously for 22 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation and Monsanto also have supported the Kranz group during the past twenty years.

Cytochrome c is a protein with the heme cofactor covalently attached to it. Cytochrome c is crucial for energy production in many bacteria and higher organisms, including humans and it is one of the most rigorously researched cellular components over the past 60 years. It is essential for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the compound that energizes all organisms.

The road the cell takes to make cytochrome c is called the biogenesis pathway. There are three different pathways which organisms use to assemble a c-type cytochrome, and in a 1998 review Kranz and colleagues termed these "systems I, II, and III." Kranz discovered the most complex one, called System I, and published the results of genetic studies beginning in 1989. These results described many of the genes required for the system I pathway.

Current members of the Kranz group include Cindy Richard-Fogal, Ph.D., research scientist in biology, and Elaine Frawley who have engineered two of the three biogenesis pathways in E. coli. Now they will engineer the third, which is naturally present in humans. Additionally the function and mechanisms behind each protein in the pathways will be studied.

The second NIH grant, an R21 award of $190,000, is to further develop a screen to find inhibitors of the pathways. Since bacteria have either system I or II but humans do not, inhibitors could be potential antim
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Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
tony_fitzpatrick@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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