Dr. Frank M. Raushel, Davidson Professor of Science in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University, is a co-author of a research paper featured on the cover of the August 16, 2007, edition of the international research journal NATURE.

The five-page feature article, Structure-Based Activity Prediction for an Enzyme of Unknown Function, details a collaborative research project conducted by Raushel along with Texas A&M chemistry post-doctoral associate Dr. Ricardo Marti-Arbona in conjunction with colleagues at the University of California-San Francisco and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to decipher an enzyme's function on the basis of its structure alone. If universally applicable to other enzymes of unknown function, including key ones present in the human body, their finding could revolutionize drug discovery and related disease treatment.

By modifying a technique called molecular docking, the team was able to predict the substrate (natural molecule which triggers an enzyme into action) on the basis of the enzyme's three-dimensional structure. Raushel's experimental results confirmed the prediction of substrate specificity, which was further validated using x-ray crystallography to determine the structure of the enzyme-product complex at high resolution.

In addition to being highlighted in the issue's Editor's Summary section, the research is the subject of a News and Views analysis by Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemistry professor JoAnne Stubbe.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@tamu.edu or Dr. Frank M. Raushel, (979) 845-3373 or raushel@mail.chem.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Frank M. Raushel

  • Dr. Ricardo Marti-Arbona

  • Function From Form

    Superposition of the crystal structure of Tm0936 in complex with SIH (red) and the docking predicted structure of the high-energy intermediate of SAH (carbons in green). Enzyme carbons are colored light blue, SAH and enzyme oxygen atoms are colored red, nitrogens blue and sulphurs orange. The purple sphere represents the divalent metal ion. An FO - FC omit electron density map for SIH is shown, contoured at 4.1 σ. The structure was determined at 2.1 Å resolution.

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