Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday's Molecule #219

Last week's molecule was cobalamin or vitamin B12. The structure was solved by Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964. There have been ten Nobel Prizes for work on vitamins and coenzymes. There were a lot of people who got this one right. The winner is Piotr Gasiorowski. The undergraduate winner is Jacob Toth [Monday's Molecule #218]. That makes four lunches that I owe Jacob. Right now, he's far away (British Columbia) but he may be coming to Toronto to collect. That may cut down on his chances of winning!

Today's molecule is a very common enzyme found in all species (I don't know of any exceptions). It's part of a pathway that's familiar to all biochemistry students. The figure illustrates a classic "induced fit" mechanism of substrate binding where the binding of one substrate creates the binding pocket for the second substrate. In this case, it's the homodimeric animal version of the enzyme showing rotation of the small domain of one of the subunits. Name the enzyme and the reaction it catalyzes.

There's more. In order to win a free lunch you have to explain something else. It's related to the fundamental concepts that all biochemistry students should know. The standard Gibbs free energy change for the reaction catalyzed by this enzyme is ΔG°′ = -31.5 kJ mol-1. What does that mean if you are trying to understand the reaction that takes place inside the cell? Is there a reason why this reaction isn't coupled to synthesis of ATP? I'm interested in seeing how most Sandwalk readers understand the fundamental concept of reaction thermodynamics.

Email your answers to me at: Monday's Molecule #219. I'll hold off posting your answers for at least 24 hours. The first one with the correct answer wins. I will only post the names of people with mostly correct answers to avoid embarrassment. The winner will be treated to a free lunch.

There could be two winners. If the first correct answer isn't from an undergraduate student then I'll select a second winner from those undergraduates who post the correct answer. You will need to identify yourself as an undergraduate in order to win. (Put "undergraduate" at the bottom of your email message.)

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