PerspectivePROTEIN ENGINEERING

Revving up an artificial metalloenzyme

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Science  14 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6407, pp. 1071-1072
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau7754

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Summary

Inorganic oxyanions such as perchlorate, nitrate, and arsenate are aqueous contaminants that are environmentally persistent and easily taken up by biological organisms (1). For example, perchlorate, a common ingredient in products including rocket fuels, munitions, and fertilizers, interferes with human thyroid function when ingested from contaminated drinking water or food (2). Another oxyanion of concern is the fertilizer component nitrate, which leaks from agricultural soil into the water table and promotes eutrophication in aquatic environments (3). Oxyanion decontamination is thus a key challenge facing chemists in the 21st century. On page 1098 of this issue, Mirts et al. report a landmark study in protein engineering that affords valuable insights into future solutions for oxyanion remediation (4).