Bacterial enzyme makes new type of biodegradable polymer —

Strings of sugars known as polysaccharides are essentially the most plentiful biopolymers on Earth. Due to their versatile and environmentally pleasant properties, these molecules may ultimately change some plastics. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Central Science have recognized a beforehand unknown bacterial enzyme that may make a brand new sort of polysaccharide, which is analogous to the biopolymer chitin. The brand new molecule is biodegradable and could possibly be helpful for drug supply, tissue engineering and different biomedical functions.

Polysaccharides play many roles in organisms, and since they’re biocompatible and biodegradable, these molecules are promising provider supplies for a broad vary of therapeutics. The id of particular person sugar molecules within the chain, and the best way they’re linked collectively, make them operate in numerous methods. Enzymes often called glycoside phosphorylases can reduce sure polysaccharides aside or make new ones, relying on the response circumstances. For instance, one such enzyme makes chitin, the foremost part of arthropod exoskeletons and fungal cell partitions. Stephen Withers and colleagues questioned if there could be beforehand unknown, naturally occurring enzymes that might make new kinds of polysaccharides.

Utilizing genomic information and activity-based screening, the researchers recognized a glycoside phosphorylase enzyme from micro organism known as Acholeplasma laidlawii, a standard contaminant of laboratory cell cultures. The group expressed and purified the enzyme, discovering that it may synthesize a brand new sort of polysaccharide, which they named acholetin. The brand new biopolymer is comparable in composition to chitin and to a biofilm-forming polysaccharide, however its sugar molecules are linked collectively in approach that differs from these identified biopolymers. The group decided the crystal construction of the glycoside phosphorylase, which they think could possibly be concerned in upkeep of A. laidlawii‘s mobile membrane. As such, researchers may be capable to goal the enzyme to forestall cell tradition contamination with the micro organism, along with utilizing the enzyme to make the brand new biopolymer. Acholetin has wide-ranging potential as a brand new sort of biocompatible, biodegradable materials, the researchers say.

The authors acknowledge funding and assist from the Pure Sciences and Engineering Analysis Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes for Well being Analysis, the U.S. Division of Power, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Nationwide Institutes of Well being.

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