Issue Date: October 2, 2006
Fusion protein aids antioxidant synthesis
Scientists have engineered yeast and mammalian cells to produce resveratrol (shown), an antioxidant found in grapes and peanuts that previously has been shown to have antiaging properties (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006, 128, 13030). Oliver Yu and coworkers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Washington University School of Medicine, both in St. Louis, increased resveratrol yield by tweaking the natural synthetic pathway so that two of the enzymes are linked as a fusion protein. When the researchers expressed this pathway in yeast cells, the cells produced 15 times more resveratrol than did engineered yeast cells expressing the enzymes separately. After 20 hours, yeast cells with the fusion protein produced 3,500 times as much resveratrol as a previously reported yeast system. Yu and his coworkers engineered their pathway into human kidney cells, which, in turn, could produce resveratrol. The researchers hope their engineering strategy can be used for medical applications, such as increasing the life span of neurons or transplanted insulin-producing cells.
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