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Gateway enzyme for chemicals from catnip to cancer drug
Date:11/21/2012

ll iridoids consists of two fused rings and scientists have been trying to track down what makes this ring system. Experiments showed that iridoid synthase is the enzyme responsible.

Scientists already knew the enzyme preceeding iridoid synthase and how the gene encoding it is expressed. The lead author, Dr Fernando Geu-Flores from JIC, therefore looked for enzymes that are encoded by genes expressed in a similar way and narrowed down their search to 20 enzymes.

Research published in the 1980s indicated that the missing enzyme is dependent on a particular compound called NADPH, which narrowed the search down to two enzymes.

O'Connor and her co-workers will also investigate whether the enzyme is important in a simple chemical reaction used by chemists for nearly 100 years. Scientists are trying to identify which enzymes catalyse a reaction called the Diels-Alder reaction, named after the Nobel prize-winning scientists who discovered it. A better understanding of how the iridoid synthase works could open up new ways to make pharmaceutical compounds using synthetic biology.


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Contact: Zoe Dunford
zoe.dunford@nbi.ac.uk
44-016-032-55111
Norwich BioScience Institutes
Source:Eurekalert  

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