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Science study shows 'promiscuous' enzymes still prevalent in metabolism
Date:8/30/2012

remain sloppy. The study found three major reasons why some enzymes have evolved to be so efficient, while others have not:
  • Enzymes that are used more extensively by the organism need to be more efficient to avoid waste. To increase efficiency, they evolve to catalyze one specific metabolic reaction.
  • When enzymes are responsible for catalyzing reactions that are necessary for cell growth and survival, they are specific in order to avoid interference from molecules that are not needed for cell growth and survival.
  • Since organisms have to adapt to dynamic and noisy environments, they sometimes need to have careful control of certain enzyme activities in order to avoid wasting energy and prepare for anticipated nutrient changes. Evolving higher specificity makes these enzymes easier to control.

Our study found that the functions of promiscuous enzymes are still used in growing cells, but the sloppiness of these enzymes is not detrimental to growth. They are much less sensitive to changes in the environment and not as necessary for efficient cell growth, said Nathan Lewis, who earned a Ph.D. in bioengineering at the Jacobs School in March and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School.

This study is also a triumph in the emerging field of systems biology, which leverages the power of high-performance computing and an enormous amount of available data from the life sciences to simulate activities such as the rates of reactions that break down nutrients to make energy and new cell parts. This study sheds light on the vast number of promiscuous enzymes in living organisms and shifts the paradigm of research in biochemistry to a holistic level, said Lewis. The insights found in our work also clearly show that fine-grained knowledge can be obtained about individual proteins while using large-scale models. This concept will yield immediate and more distant results.

Our teams findings could also inform other research
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Contact: Catherine Hockmuth
chockmuth@ucsd.edu
858-822-1359
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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Science study shows 'promiscuous' enzymes still prevalent in metabolism
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