Scientists reveal enzyme’s function by its structure

The evaluation of large amounts of biological information can help infer the function of many enzymes in the body, but for some enzymes that are not related to proteins whose activity is already understood, bioinformatics can be unreliable. Scientists at the UCSF School of Pharmacy with colleagues in Texas and New York have found another way to discover the function of these enzymes by first assessing their structure using an established technique in a new way. Knowing the structure and subsequently the function of enzymes is important since enzyme action is essential to health as well as disease. The technique opens an efficient route to drug discovery, says UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty member and research team member, Brian K. Shoichet, PhD. Research team:

  • Johannes C. Hermann, PhD, former post-doctoral student and lead author, and Brian K. Shoichet, PhD, faculty member, UCSF School of Pharmacy ;
  • Ricardo Marti-Arbona, graduate student, and Frank M. Raushel, PhD, faculty member, Texas A&M University;
  • Alexander A. Fedorov, PhD and Elena Fedorov staff scientists, and Steven C. Almo, PhD, faculty member, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Their research results appear in “Structure-based activity prediction for an enzyme of unknown function,” Nature, advanced online publication July 1, 2007.

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Translating Form into Function: Scientists Figure out How an Enzyme Works by Knowing Its Atom-by-Atom Structure

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy is a premier graduate-level academic organization dedicated to improving health through precise therapeutics. It succeeds through innovative research, by educating PharmD health professional and PhD science students, and by caring for the therapeutics needs of patients while exploring innovative new models of patient care. The School was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school in the American West. It is an integral part of UC San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.