Science News

Synthetic enzyme organelles

Thu, 21st Feb 2013

Bibiana Campos-Seijo

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Supersenses: Extraordinary Animals

Scientists in the US and China have invented a way to encapsulate teams of enzymes in a thin polymer shell. This enables the enzymes to carry out a series of sequential reactions Alcohol degrading exzyme complexeswithin an enclosed space, as happens in nature.

The first step is to identify inhibitors - molecules that will specifically attach to a given enzyme. A number of different inhibitors - each specific to its own enzyme - are then linked by a string of DNA. In the presence of the different enzymes, each inhibitor hooks its own enzyme, trapping them around the DNA scaffold and creating a complex.

Each enzyme complex is then wrapped within a thin layer of a polymeric network using an in-situ polymerisation technique. Gentle heating removes the DNA scaffold and inhibitors, leaving the functioning enzymes encased within the polymer and creating, in effect, a synthetic organelle.

The researchers illustrated the utility of their system by sobering up drunken mice with a packaged enzyme complex that metabolises alcohol. Inebriated mice treated with the complex sobered up more quickly than untreated mice.

References

Multimedia

Subscribe Free

Related Content

Wellcome Trust
EPSRC
Powered by UKfast
STFC
Genetics Society