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Marine enzyme can multi-task


An enzyme discovered in a marine bacterium catalyses complex reactions in a way that can be mimicked using simpler molecules, say biochemists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

Bradley Moore and his team examined how a species of Streptomyces creates molecules known as merochlorins, which are promising antibiotics. They found that the bacterium uses a vanadium-dependent enzyme that first adds chlorine atoms to specific sites on a simple precursor molecule, then causes the precursor to wrap up — or cyclize — into the final merochlorin structure.

The researchers imitated the enzyme's unusual activity using a set of catalysts and small molecules to make previously overlooked products related to the initial merochlorins, in only five reaction steps.

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2014)

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Marine enzyme can multi-task. Nature 513, 8 (2014).

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