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April 1st, 2004
Methuselah enzymes: SEN and the art of molecule maintenance
Enzymes, the workhorses of chemical reactions in cells, lead short and brutal lives. They cleave and assemble proteins and metabolize compounds for a few hours, and then they are spent. This sad fact of nature has limited the possibilities of harnessing enzymes as catalytic tools outside the cell, in uses that range from biosensing to toxic waste cleanup. To increase the enzyme's longevity and versatility, a team at PNNL has caged single enzymes to create a new class of catalysts called SENs, or single enzyme nanoparticles. The nanostructure protects the catalyst, allowing it to remain active for five months instead of hours.
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