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BIOCHEMISTRY: An Enzyme Assembly Line

Access to the article is free, however registration and sign-in are required. Fatty acid synthases and related megaenzymes are highly adaptable to new functions as a result of their modular architecture. The fundamental polymers of biology--proteins, DNA, and RNA--are products of repetitive condensation of simple amino acid or nucleotide building blocks and are comparatively easy to assemble. However, other biomolecules require additional reactions beyond condensation of building blocks. Examples are the fatty acids and the polyketide and nonribosomal peptide secondary metabolites. These molecules are produced by complex enzyme assembly lines that include multiple catalytic domains. Two new crystal structures--one reported recently (1), the other by Maier et al. on page 1315 of this issue (2)--enrich our understanding of how these mega-enzymes function as efficient factories to produce a remarkable range of metabolic products.

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Resource Type: Journal article/Issue, Review, Diagram
Audience Level: Undergraduate lower division 13-14, Undergraduate upper division 15-16

Author and Copyright

Authors and Editors: Janet L. Smith of Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, David H. Sherman of Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan
Publisher: AAAS
Format: text/html
Copyright and other restrictions: Yes
Cost: No


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