Research NewsChemistry

New “Guiding” Protein Discovered

Science  17 Jan 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5298, pp. 306
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5298.306

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Compared to nature's chemical wizardry, human chemists are all thumbs. Inside plant cells, for instance, tiny chemical factories manage to crank out just one version of a chemical flawlessly, while most test-tube reactions yield messy mixtures of many isomers. But now researchers report on page 362 that they have discovered what appears to be a whole new class of compounds, so-called “dirigent” proteins that seem to grab and maneuver chemical building blocks so they join in the proper orientation. The finding could be a boon for drug companies and the paper industry.