Protein Structure in Bacterial Metabolism

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Submitted by David Born and Marco Just

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The image depicts the structure of a protein as it is performing a chemical reaction in bacterial metabolism. We created this image to visualize how the protein mediates its chemical reaction and to visualize the location of the protein’s substrate relative to its vitamin B12-derived cofactor. Data was collected using synchrotron-derived X-rays and crystallized protein. Structures were generated using PyMOL, and coloring was artistically manipulated in Photoshop.

The structure depicted in the image has enabled a greater understanding of how B12-dependent enzymes catalyze similar reactions on diverse substrates. We are interested in better understanding this substrate specificity to identify novel enzyme functions and to engineer existing enzymes for important industrial reactions.