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Concept: Catalysis


Beetle luciferases are thought to have evolved from fatty acyl-CoA synthetases present in all insects. Both classes of enzymes activate fatty acids with ATP to form acyl-adenylate intermediates, but only luciferases can activate and oxidize d-luciferin to emit light. Here we show that the Drosophila fatty acyl-CoA synthetase CG6178, which cannot use d-luciferin as a substrate, is able to catalyze light emission from the synthetic luciferin analog CycLuc2. Bioluminescence can be detected from the purified protein, live Drosophila Schneider 2 cells, and from mammalian cells transfected with CG6178. Thus, the nonluminescent fruit fly possesses an inherent capacity for bioluminescence that is only revealed upon treatment with a xenobiotic molecule. This result expands the scope of bioluminescence and demonstrates that the introduction of a new substrate can unmask latent enzymatic activity that differs significantly from an enzyme’s normal function without requiring mutation.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Insect, Catalysis, Bioluminescence, Luciferase


Cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase (POR) is known as the sole electron donor in the metabolism of drugs by cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes in human. However, little is known about the effect of polymorphic variants of POR on drug metabolic activities of CYP3A4 and CYP2B6. In order to better understand the mechanism of the activity of CYPs affected by polymorphic variants of POR, six full-length mutants of POR (e.g., Y181D, A287P, K49N, A115V, S244C and G413S) were designed and then co-expressed with CYP3A4 and CYP2B6 in the baculovirus-Sf9 insect cells to determine their kinetic parameters. Surprisingly, both mutants, Y181D and A287P in POR completely inhibited the CYP3A4 activity with testosterone, while the catalytic activity of CYP2B6 with bupropion was reduced to approximately ~70% of wild-type activity by Y181D and A287P mutations. In addition, the mutant K49N of POR increased the CLint (Vmax/Km) of CYP3A4 up to more than 31% of wild-type, while it reduced the catalytic efficiency of CYP2B6 to 74% of wild-type. Moreover, CLint values of CYP3A4-POR (A115V, G413S) were increased up to 36% and 65% of wild-type respectively. However, there were no appreciable effects observed by the remaining two mutants of POR (i.e., A115V and G413S) on activities of CYP2B6. In conclusion, the extent to which the catalytic activities of CYP were altered did not only depend on the specific POR mutations but also on the isoforms of different CYP redox partners. Thereby, we proposed that the POR-mutant patients should be carefully monitored for the activity of CYP3A4 and CYP2B6 on the prescribed medication.

Concepts: Metabolism, Enzyme, Electrochemistry, Catalysis, Nitrogen, Cytochrome P450, P450-containing systems, Cytochrome P450 reductase


Studies of the interaction between hydrogen and graphene have been increasingly required due to the indispensable modulation of the electronic structure of graphene for device applications and the possibility of using graphene as a hydrogen storage material. Here, we report on the behaviour of molecular hydrogen on graphene using the gate voltage-dependent resistance of single-, bi-, and multi-layer graphene sheets as a function of H(2) gas pressure up to 24 bar from 300 K to 345 K. Upon H(2) exposure, the charge neutrality point shifts toward the negative gate voltage region, indicating n-type doping, and distinct Raman signature changes, increases in the interlayer distance of multi-layer graphene, and a decrease in the d-spacing occur, as determined by TEM. These results demonstrate the occurrence of dissociative H(2) adsorption due to the existence of vacancy defects on graphene.

Concepts: Oxygen, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Atom, Pressure, Gas, Liquid hydrogen, Hydrogen storage


A combined ligand and structure-based drug design approach provides a synergistic advantage over either methods performed individually. Present work bestows a good assembly of ligand and structure-based pharmacophore generation concept. Ligand-oriented study was accomplished by employing the HypoGen module of Catalyst in which we have translated the experimental findings into 3-D pharmacophore models by identifying key features (four point pharmacophore) necessary for interaction of the inhibitors with the active site of HIV-1 protease enzyme using a training set of 33 compounds belonging to the cyclic cyanoguanidines and cyclic urea derivatives. The most predictive pharmacophore model (hypothesis 1), consisting of four features, namely, two hydrogen bond acceptors and two hydrophobic, showed a correlation ® of 0.90 and a root mean square of 0.71 and cost difference of 56.59 bits between null cost and fixed cost. The model was validated using CatScramble technique, internal and external test set prediction. In the second phase of our study, a structure-based five feature pharmacophore hypothesis was generated which signifies the importance of hydrogen bond donor, hydrogen bond acceptors and hydrophobic interaction between the HIV-1 protease enzyme and its inhibitors. This work has taken a significant step towards the full integration of ligand and structure-based drug design methodologies as pharmacophoric features retrieved from structure-based strategy complemented the features from ligand-based study hence proving the accuracy of the developed models. The ligand-based pharmacophore model was used in virtual screening of Maybridge and NCI compound database resulting in the identification of four structurally diverse druggable compounds with nM activities.

Concepts: HIV, Scientific method, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Hydrogen bond, Enzyme inhibitor, Root mean square, Pharmacophore


Platinum-nanoparticle-based catalysts are widely used in many important chemical processes and automobile industries. Downsizing catalyst nanoparticles to single atoms is highly desirable to maximize their use efficiency, however, very challenging. Here we report a practical synthesis for isolated single Pt atoms anchored to graphene nanosheet using the atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique. ALD offers the capability of precise control of catalyst size span from single atom, subnanometer cluster to nanoparticle. The single-atom catalysts exhibit significantly improved catalytic activity (up to 10 times) over that of the state-of-the-art commercial Pt/C catalyst. X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) analyses reveal that the low-coordination and partially unoccupied densities of states of 5d orbital of Pt atoms are responsible for the excellent performance. This work is anticipated to form the basis for the exploration of a next generation of highly efficient single-atom catalysts for various applications.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Atom, Ribozyme, Catalytic converter, Solid, Enzyme catalysis


The membrane heme protein cytochrome b5 (b5) can enhance, inhibit, or have no effect on cytochrome P450 (P450) catalysis, depending on the specific P450, substrate, and reaction conditions, but the structural basis remains unclear. Herein the interactions between the soluble domain of microsomal b5 and the catalytic domain of the bi-functional steroidogenic cytochrome P450 17A1 (CYP17A1) were investigated. CYP17A1 performs both steroid hydroxylation, which is unaffected by b5, and an androgen-forming lyase reaction which is facilitated 10-fold by b5. NMR chemical shift mapping of b5 titrations with CYP17A1 indicate that the interaction occurs in an intermediate exchange regime and identifies charged surface residues involved in the protein/protein interface. The role of these residues is confirmed by disruption of the complex upon mutagenesis of either the anionic b5 residues (E48 or E49) or the corresponding cationic CYP17A1 residues (R347, R358, or R449). Cytochrome b5 binding to CYP17A1 is also mutually exclusive with binding of NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase (CPR). To probe the differential effects of b5 on the two CYP17A1-mediated reactions and thus communication between the superficial b5 binding site and the buried CYP17A1 active site, CYP17A1/b5 complex formation was characterized with either hydroxylase or lyase substrates bound to CYP17A1. Significantly, the CYP17A1/b5 interaction is stronger when the hydroxylase substrate pregnenolone is present in the CYP17A1 active site than when the lyase substrate 17α-hydroxypregnenolone is in the active site. These findings form the basis for a clearer understanding of this important interaction by directly measuring the reversible binding of the two proteins, providing evidence of communication between the CYP17A1 active site and the superficial proximal b5 binding site.

Concepts: Metabolism, Enzyme, Catalysis, Cytochrome P450, Enzyme inhibitor, Steroid, Enzyme catalysis, CYP17A1


We report a facile and green method to synthesize a new type of catalyst by coating Pd nanoparticles (NPs) on reduced graphene oxide (rGO)-carbon nanotube (CNT) nanocomposite. An rGO-CNT nanocomposite with three-dimensional microstructures was obtained by hydrothermal treatment of an aqueous dispersion of graphene oxide (GO) and CNTs. After the rGO-CNT composites have been dipped in K2PdCl4 solution, the spontaneous redox reaction between the GO-CNT and PdCl4(2-) led to the formation of nanohybrid materials consisting rGO-CNT decorated with 4 nm Pd NPs, which exhibited excellent and stable catalytic activity: the reduction of 4-nitrophenol to 4-aminophenol using NaBH4 as a catalyst was completed in only 20 s at room temperature, even when the Pd content of the catalyst was 1.12 wt%. This method does not require rigorous conditions or toxic agents and thus is a rapid, efficient, and green approach to the fabrication of highly active catalysts.

Concepts: Enzyme, Chemical reaction, Hydrogen, Electrochemistry, Catalysis, Hydrogenation, Catalytic converter, Nitrogen


The specificity for the α-1,4- and α-1,6-glucosidic linkages varies among glycoside hydrolase family 31 α-glucosidases. This difference in substrate specificity has been considered to be due to the difference in an aromatic residue on β→α loop 1 in the catalytic domain with a (β/α)8 barrel fold; i.e., the enzymes having Tyr and Trp on β→α loop 1 were respectively described as α-1,4-specific and α-1,6-specific α-glucosidases. Schwanniomyces occidentalis α-glucosidase, however, prefers the α-1,4-glucosidic linkage, although the enzyme possesses Trp324 at the corresponding position. The mutation of Trp324 to Tyr decreased the ability for hydrolysis of the α-1,6-glucosidic linkage and formation of the α-1,6-glucosidic linkage in transglycosylation, indicating Trp324 to be closely associated with α-1,6 specificity, even if the enzyme preferred the α-1,4-glucosidic linkage. The mutant enzyme was found to catalyze the production of the branched oligosaccharide, 2,4-di-O-(α-D-glucopyranosyl)-D-glucopyranose, more efficiently than the wild-type enzyme.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Enzyme, Enzyme substrate, Product, Catalysis, Ribozyme, Hydrolysis


Sucrose isomerase NX-5 from Erwiniarhapontici efficiently catalyzes the isomerization of sucrose to isomaltulose (main product) and trehalulose (by-product). To investigate the molecular mechanism controlling sucrose isomer formation, we determined the crystal structures of native NX-5 and its mutant complexes E295Q/sucrose and D241A/glucose at 1.70 Å, 1.70 Å and 2.00 Å, respectively. The overall structure and active site architecture of NX-5 resemble those of other reported sucrose isomerases. Strikingly, the substrate binding mode of NX-5 is also similar to that of trehalulose synthase from Pseudomonasmesoacidophila MX-45 (MutB). Detailed structural analysis revealed the catalytic RXDRX motif and the adjacent 10-residue loop of NX-5 and isomaltulose synthase PalI from Klebsiella sp. LX3 adopt a distinct orientation from those of trehalulose synthases. Mutations of the loop region of NX-5 resulted in significant changes of the product ratio between isomaltulose and trehalulose. The molecular dynamics simulation data supported the product specificity of NX-5 towards isomaltulose and the role of the loop(330-339) in NX-5 catalysis. This work should prove useful for the engineering of sucrose isomerase for industrial carbohydrate biotransformations.

Concepts: Enzyme, Molecular dynamics, Structure, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Solid, Enzyme catalysis, Erwinia


Coordinatively unsaturated (CUS) iron sites are highly active in catalytic oxidation reactions; however, maintaining the CUS structure of iron during heterogeneous catalytic reactions is a great challenge. Here, we report a strategy to stabilize single-atom CUS iron sites by embedding highly dispersed FeN4 centers in the graphene matrix. The atomic structure of FeN4 centers in graphene was revealed for the first time by combining high-resolution transmission electron microscopy/high-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy with low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy. These confined single-atom iron sites exhibit high performance in the direct catalytic oxidation of benzene to phenol at room temperature, with a conversion of 23.4% and a yield of 18.7%, and can even proceed efficiently at 0°C with a phenol yield of 8.3% after 24 hours. Both experimental measurements and density functional theory calculations indicate that the formation of the Fe═O intermediate structure is a key step to promoting the conversion of benzene to phenol. These findings could pave the way toward highly efficient nonprecious catalysts for low-temperature oxidation reactions in heterogeneous catalysis and electrocatalysis.

Concepts: Electron, Electron microscope, Chemical reaction, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Hydrogenation, Density functional theory, Scanning tunneling microscope