Proton pathway reproduced to understand how algae enzymes produce hydrogen

November 25, 2018 |

In Germany, scientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum succeeded for the first time in understanding how certain algae enzymes produce hydrogen by reproducing the pathway of the protons to the active center of these [FeFe] hydrogenases. This could allow such efficient but vulnerable biocatalysts to be chemically more stable.

The hydrogenases produce two protons and two electrons of hydrogen in their catalytic center. The necessary protons take them from the surrounding water and transport them via various intermediate stations into their interior. How exactly the pathway of the protons by the hydrogenase looks, was not yet known. Dr. Martin Winkler, one of the authors of the study from the Photobiotechnology Group of the RUB, said that depending on where the scientists had changed the hydrogenase, hydrogen production only worked less efficiently or not at all and “We found out why some variants are severely disturbed in their enzyme activity and others are unlikely to be impaired.”

Their findings might enable scientists to create stable chemical reproductions of such efficient, yet fragile biocatalysts.

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Category: Research

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