A closer look under the hood

Enzymes are the sophisticated molecular machines that catalyze myriad biochemical reactions occurring in nature. For nearly a century, a large body of research has provided a wealth of insight into enzyme-catalyzed reactions and allowed us to learn a tremendous amount about how enzymes function. But despite this, there is still a lot to be unraveled about enzymes. In the four sessions of this symposium, our invited speakers will take the audience on a tour of the forefront of enzyme research, offering a look under the hood of some of the most sophisticated enzymes.

Metalloenzymes and radicals in catalysis

Many enzyme-catalyzed reactions are chemically difficult, yet proceed with ease in ambient conditions. Typically, such reactions involve highly-reactive intermediates that activate the substrate at a specific, often inert position. What is perhaps most remarkable about such enzymes is the fact that the enzyme scaffold controls and directs the reactivity by suppressing side reactions. Two sessions are devoted to enzymes that catalyze chemically-demanding reactions involving reactive intermediates. The sessions will focus on highly-reactive bioinorganic and bioorganic enzyme reaction intermediates, such as high-valent metal-oxo species or organic radicals.

Structural studies of complex systems

Knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of an enzyme has provided a quantum leap in the understanding of its inner workings, yet many enzymes cannot be crystallized readily due to their size or stability. This session will focus on the structural biology of such complex enzymes to highlight the role of structure in the function of complex enzyme systems.

Enzyme dynamics and enzyme motions

Although knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of an enzyme is immensely valuable, it provides only a snapshot of the enzyme in its stillest form. In reality, enzymes are dynamic and constantly in motion. One session is devoted to research that takes our understanding of enzyme catalysis from the level of static pictures to the next level by examining the role of enzyme dynamics in catalysis.


Vahe Bandarian

Vahe Bandarian, University of Arizona.

Carsten Krebs

Carsten Krebs, Pennsylvania State University.