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Scientists turn toxic by-product into biofuel booster
Date:2/4/2013

eaction going," he said.

Living cells often contain levels of hydrogen peroxide sufficient to cause ADO inhibition. So there was a question about whether the dual enzyme would increase alkane production under these natural conditions.

Results to date have been encouraging: In experiments in test tubes and pilot studies in bacteria, the bi-functional enzyme resulted in at least a five-fold increase in alkane production compared with ADO alone. And, in addition to removing hydrogen peroxide as an inhibitor of ADO, the combo enzyme actually helps drive the alkane-producing reaction by producing oxygen, one of the key components required for activity.

"This bi-functional enzyme simultaneously decreases the concentration of the inhibitor and increases the concentration of a needed reaction component by converting an inhibitor into a substrate," Shanklin said.

Now the scientists are working to install the combo enzyme in algae or green plants.

"While ADO-containing bacteria convert sugar that we feed to them into alkanes, it would be much more efficient to produce alkanes in photosynthetic organisms using carbon dioxide and sunlight," Shanklin said.

The scientists also suggest that the general approach of strategically designing fusion enzymes to break down small molecule inhibitors could be used to improve the efficiency of a wide range of reactions. Defeating natural inhibition, a process they describe as "protection via inhibitor metabolism" (PIM), would allow such bifunctional enzymes to function more efficiently than their natural counterparts.


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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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