Research Highlights | Published:

Biochemistry: Catalytic creator

Nature volume 456, page 841 (18 December 2008) | Download Citation


In March, David Baker at the University of Washington in Seattle and his colleagues reported the rational design of enzymes for reactions that have no known catalysts.

The team took advantage of the down time of many other people's computers to perform the calculations necessary to build models of how synthetic enzymes would interact with substrates. They then made 72 different enzymes (including that pictured), 32 of which catalyse a 'retro-aldol' reaction, which involves the breaking of a carbon–carbon bond in a certain non-biological molecule. They verified the structures of two of their enzymes with X-ray crystallography.

Many other labs have since worked with Baker's enzymes and confirmed their activity.

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