Douglas Pike - FROM STRUCTURE TO FUNCTION OF PRIMORDIAL ENZYMES
From Valentina Erastova
Rutgers University, USA
Wednesday, 22nd of April 4pm (UK)
FROM STRUCTURE TO FUNCTION OF PRIMORDIAL ENZYMES
Life on Earth is driven by electron transfer reactions, catalysed by a suite of essential enzymes. Most modern enzymes are complex in their structure and chemistry and must have evolved from a smaller set of ancestral protein folds. Ancient oxidoreductase enzymes, from the Archean Eon between ca. 3.5 and 2.5 billion years ago, have been long extinct, making it challenging to retrace evolution by sequence-based phylogeny or ancestral sequence reconstruction. However, three-dimensional topologies of proteins change more slowly than sequences, and by using comparative structural analysis, we can quantify the similarity between enzyme active sites that are conserved across the tree of life. As structural landmarks, these conserved fold motifs can be employed as scaffolds for in silico ‘evolution’ to design enzymes that are simple, functional and could have occurred spontaneously on the early Earth.
Building Worlds : Earth Life and Space Seminar Series