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The surprising Swiss-army-knife-like functions of a powerful enzyme


Abramelin
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Blue-green algae (AKA cyanobacteria) have a superpower which likely helps them be highly successful as invaders of waterways. They have an extraordinary ability to store energy and nitrogen in their cells for times of need. But how exactly they do so remains only partly understood.

Now researchers from McGill University and their collaborators at ETH Zurich have uncovered an intriguing hitherto unknown ability of the enzymes (known as cyanophycin synthetases) that are active in creating these food reserves. Their findings, described in a recent paper in Nature Communications, are not only scientifically surprising, but take us a step closer to being able to use these environmentally friendly polymers for everything from bandages to biodegradable antiscalants to animal food.

Enzymes such as cyanophycin synthetases (called polymerase enzymes because they synthesize long chains of polymers) usually require primers in the form of short starter chains to start assembling the long chains. Polymerases act as catalysts for a wide range of biological functions, from kickstarting the process of RNA and DNA replication to converting glucose into glycogen as a way of storing energy for later use. Cyanophycin synthetases from many different cyanobacteria were thought to need primers like all the other polymerases, but then the researchers spotted something new.

https://phys.org/news/2022-09-swiss-army-knife-like-functions-powerful-enzyme.html

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