With $10.65 million in support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a new Energy Frontier Research Center based at Michigan State University (MSU) has been established. Led by Cheryl Kerfeld, a professor in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, the Center for Catalysis in Biomimetic Confinement (CCBC) will explore how nature compartmentalizes some of its most important biochemical reactions.
A Lesson in Logistics from Bacterial Nanofactories
Engineering artificial nanofactories modeled on bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) will require a chain of “logistical” vehicles to deliver the products. Making progress on that front, scientists affiliated with Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division and the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory have detailed the structure and function of a BMC-associated protein involved in electron transfer, a fundamental part of the assembly line that leads to the production of chemical compounds. The study, published in the journal Biochemistry, was led by Cheryl Kerfeld; Marcus Sutter also collaborated on the project. Read more from the MSU-DOE Plant Research Lab.
New Addition to Family of Light-responsive Proteins
A study led by Cheryl Kerfeld, with colleagues from Biosciences’ Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, as well as her MSU-DOE Plant Research group at Michigan State University, made the cover of the August 2017 issue of Nature Plants. Matthew Melnicki, Markus Sutter, and Fei Cai of MBIB contributed to the study, which characterized a recently identified member of the orange carotenoid family of proteins (OCPs). These proteins change conformation in response to ambient light conditions to protect the host cyanobacteria from harmful exposure. Compared to the canonical exemplar, OCP1, the new OCP, called OCP2, requires relatively higher light intensity for activation, but it reacts faster than OCP1. The goal of Kerfeld’s OCP research is to understand how the various members of the family work, and use that knowledge to engineer the protein for applications in renewable energy and medicine. Read more from the MSU-DOE Plant Research Lab.
Novel Orange Carotenoid Proteins Shed Light on Evolution of Cyanobacteria Photoprotection
Research led by Cheryl Kerfeld, with members of her group in Berkeley Lab Biosciences’ Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, as well as her MSU-DOE Plant Research group at Michigan State University, has identified and characterized a new, functionally distinct member of the Orange Carotenoid Protein (OCP) family. The OCP complex enables chromatically acclimating blue-green algae to avoid cellular damage and growth inhibition in conditions of high light or nutrient stress.
Orange is the New Red
Cheryl Kerfeld of the Molecular Biophysics & Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division led the discovery that a photo-protective mechanism in cyanobacteria is triggered by an unprecedented, large-scale movement from one location to another of the carotenoid pigment within the Orange Carotenoid Protein.
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