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New technique permits development of enzyme tool kit
Date:5/10/2010

An Arizona State University graduate student, Jinglin Fu, in collaboration with Biodesign Institute researchers Neal Woodbury and Stephen Albert Johnston, has pioneered a technique that improves on scientists' ability to harness and modulate enzyme activity.

The new approach, reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (published recently online), could have wide applicability for designing a range of industrial catalysts, health care diagnostics and therapies centered on understanding the control of enzymatic activity.

Enzymes, key catalysts that speed up the reactions inside every cell, are critical for life. As Neal Woodbury, chief scientist the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University notes, "all the processes that happen inside of your body, essentially without exception, are run by enzymes." Enzymes are also a prized tool in biomedical research, aiding the development of diagnostic tests and therapeutics for a range of human diseases.

But studying the role of enzymes can be tricky. One approach has been to use a specialized platform known as a microarraywhere glass slides are deposited with 10,000 protein fragments, called peptides, that are screened for their ability to react with specific enzymes and alter their activity. "On the microarray, you can screen thousands of molecules at the same time," Fu says, allowing the simultaneous monitoring of the peptide-enzyme binding and the change in enzyme activity at each spot on the array.

But there is a problem with this approach, that has so far hampered enzyme research. "When you try to monitor the chemical reaction that the enzyme catalyzes in the microarray, the molecule generated by the enzyme reaction quickly diffuses away, causing serious cross-contamination between spots on the array," Fu explains. To solve this problem, Fu applied polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)a thick, viscous and clear polymer to the microarray slide to limit the diffusion o
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Contact: Joseph Caspermeyer
Joseph.Caspermeyer@asu.edu
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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