U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Neutron Crystallography Helps Understand How CO2 Metabolizing Enzymes Work
Published: March 01, 2010
Posted: March 10, 2010

Carbonic anhydrases (CAs) are a family of enzymes that play an essential role in the metabolism of carbon dioxide, converting CO2 into carbonate ion and a proton. CAs are very stable and inexpensive, and could find significant large-scale applications in carbon sequestration processes and biofuel production. However, little is known about the active site of CAs while they carry out their function, impeding design of optimized CAs for these applications. Now scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Florida have used neutron crystallography to determine the structure of human carbonic anhydrase II (HCA II). Their experiments reveal the orientation of the amino acids around the zinc ion in the active site and the unexpected presence of a water molecule bound to the metal ion. The structural information has enabled development of a mechanism to explain the proton transfer process. The scientists used the DOE-funded Protein Crystallography Station (PCS) at Los Alamos for their research, which has just been published as an Accelerated Publication in Biochemistry.

Reference: S. Zoƫ Fisher, et al., "Neutron structure of human carbonic anhydrase II: Implications for proton transfer" Biochemistry (2010) 49, 415-421.

Contact: Roland F. Hirsch, SC-23.2, (301) 903-9009
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: Structural Biology, Biomolecular Characterization and Imaging
  • Research Area: Structural Biology Infrastructure

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)