Congratulations to graduate student Liz Diessner on her third(!) publication this quarter!
Taking Enzymes to the Extremes
Understanding how enzymes maintain function in extreme thermal environments is critically important both for the design of bio-inspired molecular tools, and for unraveling the tricks by which organisms are able survive under adverse conditions. A new paper by the Butts and Martin groups in the journal Biomolecules (https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/13/2/328) uses comparative modeling and analysis to probe the similarities and differences among D-Ala-D-Ala carboxypeptidases from organisms adapted to cold, hot, or neutral ambient temperatures. This work suggests that much of the conventional wisdom on thermal adaptation in enzymes may not apply to all enzyme classes, with enzymes in this family lacking several adaptations often argued to be essential for functioning in extreme environments, while sporting other differences. As this research illustrates, exploiting to the power of computational methods to systematically compare large numbers of enzymes can not only help us spot patterns associated with adaptation to extreme environments, but also help keep us from being misled by spurious correlations from small-N studies.