Making something new out of something old – 450M year-old enzymes boost thermostability

October 28, 2018 |

In Australia, University of Queensland researchers have stabilized biocatalyst enzymes that used to fall apart outside the body and at high temperatures so that they don’t do that anymore, which can be useful for carrying out chemical transformations under industrial conditions, such as producing biofuels.

They made more heat tolerant and stronger versions of two enymes, cytochrome P450 and a ketol-acid reductoisomerase (KARI) by looking to our ancestors and reconstructing them as they were 450 million years ago. They made the vertebrate ancestor enzyme of a KARI, enzymes which are currently used to make butanol-based biofuels. The ancestral form had superior thermostability, but was eight times more active than the E. coli form that is currently used as a model for biofuel production.

Elizabeth Gillam at the University of Queensland in Australia told Chemistry World, “We went back to the ancestral form of these enzymes, and it turns out that the ancestral form is very thermostable – it can take very high temperatures and it can last for a long time at ambient temperatures.”

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Category: Research

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