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UI researcher studies evolution on the molecular level
Date:12/13/2013

ducing 'humanized' bacterial enzyme, meaning modifying parts of the bacterial enzyme to have the amino-acids sequence of the human enzyme. This was done based on a comparison of enzyme sequences of many organisms ranging from bacteria to human.

"We found that while many steps in the catalytic cascade of these enzymes are evolving, the actual chemical conversion catalyzed by the enzymes is conserved along evolutionmeaning that even in the bacteria, the enzyme already has perfectly oriented the reactants in its active site, as well as in the human enzyme. This outcome was not expected, as the human enzyme is much faster and quite different genetically," he says.

Kohen says that the study is significant in that it shows that the dynamics of enzyme evolution is preserved along evolution from bacteria to humans.

"The finding significantly affects how the scientific community understands what was important for evolutionary pressure to preserve and what is unimportant," he says. "For example, the preservation of enzyme dynamics that are involved in catalyzing the chemical conversion are very fast and were not expected to play a role in evolution, thus our findings will bring researchers to consider such fast dynamics not only in evolution, but also in the design of drugs used against this enzyme (and maybe enzymes in general) or the design of bio-mimetic (nature inspired) catalysts."

Kohen says that his study of the diverging genetic sequences between E. coli and Homo sapiens illustrates the process of evolution at a basic level.

"We start with E. coli because it is at a basic level, and we use bioinformatics to trace the evolution of a single enzyme," he says.


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Contact: Gary Galluzzo
gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu
319-384-0009
University of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

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