Biotechnology

Washing with Detergents

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Science  24 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5645, pp. 537
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5645.537a

Reversible inhibition of enzymes is most often achieved via the design of small molecules that bind noncovalently and specifically as in the targeting of cyclooxygenase by nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs. Fischer et al. have pursued the use of nanoparticles consisting of a 2-nm gold core covered by anionic alkane chains attached by a sulfhydryl linkage. These particles inhibit chymotrypsin, apparently by glomming on to cationic residues around the active site, and are able to bind and perturb the native structures of several molecules of chymotrypsin with little effect on other enzymes such as elastase and β-galactosidase. The authors show that this inhibitory interaction can be readily reversed by adding cationic alkyl surfactants, which release the reactivated and refolded chymotrypsin into solution. — GJC

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 99, 5018 (2002); J. Am. Chem. Soc. 10.1021/ja0352505 (2003).

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