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Research Abstracts Online
January 2010 - March 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences
Medical School
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics

PI: Lawrence P. Wackett, Associate Fellow

Identification of Novel Metabolism and Biocatalysts

As more genomes are being sequenced, evidence that large portions of an organism’s genome are unique has fueled the idea that there is a large section of metabolism yet to be discovered. This project is focused on identifying novel metabolism and biocatalytic reactions through a combination of computational and experimental techniques. The Wackett laboratory has developed two approaches to identifying novel biocatalysis. The first involves experimentally identifying genes involved in novel metabolism, then analyzing the sequence of these genes computationally, using such resources as genome analysis, phylogenetic analysis, and protein modeling. These techniques allow for determining how widespread the gene is and what ancestral links the gene may share, and may give insights into the potential catalytic mechanisms or mechanism of action of the gene product.

The second method is based upon mining information from the available genomes. Experimental identification of an organism with a novel metabolism can be used as a starting point for comparative genome analysis with the sequenced genomes of a similar organism. Using this methodology, gene targets for the novel metabolism can be identified and cloned, and the clones tested for functionality and whether they are responsible for the novel metabolism. These methods have been extensively used in investigating the amidohydrolase superfamily and will continue to be used to identify biocatalytic reactions not previously described in the literature.

Group Members

Stephan Cameron, Graduate Student
Anthony G. Dodge, Graduate Student
Erik L. Reynolds, Graduate Student
Jennifer Seffernick, Research Associate
David Sukovich, Graduate Student