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

BER Research Highlights

New Insights into D-Xylose Isomerase (XI)
Published: March 01, 2011
Posted: April 08, 2011

XI is an important enzyme because it can convert sugars that resist bioconversion to fuel into those readily fermented by, for example, yeasts. Through neutron diffraction experiments at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, researchers were able to map the positioning of individual hydrogen atoms as XI moves them from one carbon to another on a sugar molecule. They were able to model how specific amino acids in the XI structure are involved in proton movement. Results may enable new approaches for modifying the enzyme to improve its performance for biofuel and other applications. This research was featured on the June 9, 2010, cover of Structure.

Reference: Kovalevsky, A. Y., et al. 2010. “Metal Ion Roles and the Movement of Hydrogen During Reaction Catalyzed by D-Xylose Isomerase: A Joint X-Ray and Neutron Diffraction Study,” Structure 18, 688–99.

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


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