Navigation Links
Remarkable enzyme points the way to reducing nitric acid use in industry

An enzyme in the bacterium that causes potato scab could help create new, environmentally-benign biocatalysts with the potential to cut use of the highly corrosive chemical nitric acid.

Chemists at the University of Warwick in the UK, in collaboration with researchers at Cornell University in the USA, have reported in the journal Nature Chemical Biology the discovery of an enzyme in the bacterium Streptomyces scabies that catalyses an aromatic nitration reaction.

TxtE, a cytochrome P450 enzyme, is the first example of an enzyme that has specifically evolved to catalyse an aromatic nitration reaction. It does this by using the gases nitrogen monoxide, generated from the amino acid arginine by the nitric oxide synthase partner enzyme txtD, and dioxygen.

These results may eventually find application in industrial chemistry, where the highly corrosive chemicals nitric acid and sulphuric acid are currently used to carry out aromatic nitration reactions.

Engineering of the TxtE enzyme may allow it to be developed as a nitration biocatalyst for the production of industrial chemicals without the need to use nitric acid.

Professor Greg Challis of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, who led the project, said: "Nitration reactions are very important commercially, for example to make explosives and nitroaromatic compounds that are key building blocks for industrial chemistry.

"Such reactions are currently performed using highly corrosive chemicals like nitric acid, which is difficult to handle and is environmentally unfriendly.

"It would be very exciting if a biocatalyst could be developed for environmentally-benign industrial production of nitroaromatics "

Cytochrome P450 enzymes are ubiquitous in living organisms. Usually they are responsible for hydroxylation and other oxidative reactions but this is the first time that they have been reported to catalyse a nitration reaction.

TxtE catalyses the introduction of a nitro group into a specific position of the aromatic ring of the amino acid tryptophan. This is the first key step in the biosynthesis of thaxtomin A.

Thaxtomin A enables Streptomyces scabies to damage potatoes and other root vegetables by inhibiting cellulose production, thereby damaging the cell wall and allowing an infection to take hold.

The enzyme's crucial role in thaxtomin A biosynthesis makes it a potential target for the development of new molecules to block thaxtomin production and thus prevent potato scab, a disease which places a significant economic burden on the agricultural industry globally.


Contact: Anna Blackaby
University of Warwick

Related biology news :

1. MBL scientists discover nerves control iridescence in squid’s remarkable electric skin
2. Ancient enzymes function like nanopistons to unwind RNA
3. Brain enzyme is double whammy for Alzheimers disease
4. Is it a rock, or is it Jell-O? Defining the architecture of rhomboid enzymes
5. UCLA scientists discover how key enzyme involved in aging, cancer assembles
6. New screening technique yields elusive compounds to block immune-regulating enzyme
7. Scientists discover enzyme that could slow part of the aging process in astronauts -- and the elderly
8. ORNL process improves catalytic rate of enzymes by 3,000 percent
9. Genzyme/ACMG Foundation Genetics Training Award in Clinical Biochemical Genetics announced
10. New immune defense enzyme discovered
11. Penn biologists identify a key enzyme involved in protecting nerves from degeneration
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 09, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the "Global ... to their offering. --> ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2, 2015  SRI International has been awarded a ... development services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT ... scientific expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical ... and toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015 Daon, a global leader in mobile ... a new version of its IdentityX Platform , ... America have already installed IdentityX v4.0 and ... FIDO UAF certified server component as an ... FIDO features. These customers include some of the largest ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... --> ... 2020 report analyzes that automating biobanking workflow will ... long-term samples, minimizing manual errors, improving the workflow ... errors such as mislabeling or inaccurate sample barcoding ... a vital role in blood fractionation, DNA extraction, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ANGELES and HOLLISTON, Mass. ... Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: HART ), a biotechnology company ... that CEO Jim McGorry will present at ... December 1, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. PT. The presentation ... below) for 30 days. Management will also be available ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... a fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th ... . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, ... .  A replay will be available for 14 days ... , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development , ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today ... Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an ... turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass ...
Breaking Biology Technology: