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Colloquium | Nanoscience and Technology Division

Primordial Enzymes Through Protein Design

NST Colloquium

Abstract: Life on Earth is driven by electron transfer reactions catalyzed by a suite of enzymes that comprise the superfamily of oxidoreductases. Most modern oxidoreductases are complex in their structure and chemistry and must have evolved from a small set of ancient folds. Ancient oxidoreductases, from the Archean Eon between ca. 3.5 and 2.5 billion years ago, are long extinct. We use the tools of computational protein engineering to re-imagine early enzymes and test their activity in the laboratory. Functions such as electron transfer and hydrogen production can be realized by very short peptides that have plausible primordial origins.

Bio: Vikas Nanda is professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University, and a resident faculty member in the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine. He has a Doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in Biochemistry.