Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday's Molecule #66

This is a very important enzyme. Most living organisms on this planet could not survive if this enzyme didn't do its job. Very few species have this enzyme but we depend on those few species for our very existence.

Your task for today is to identify the enzyme (1) and the species from which this particular enzyme was isolated (2). You also have to write out the complete reaction that is catalyzed by this enzyme (3).

In addition you have to identify the Nobel Laureate who is associated with the reaction that is catalyzed by the enzyme. (Hint: the Nobel Laureate studied the chemical reaction, not the biological one.)

The first person to correctly identify the enzyme and species, write the chemical equation, and name the Nobel Laureate. wins a free lunch at the Faculty Club. Previous winners are ineligible for one month from the time they first collected the prize. There is only one ineligible candidate for this week's reward.


Nobel Laureates
Send your guess to Sandwalk (sandwalk (at) and I'll pick the first email message that correctly answers the questions and names the Nobel Laureate(s). Note that I'm not going to repeat Nobel Laureates so you might want to check the list of previous Sandwalk postings.

Correct responses will be posted tomorrow along with the time that the message was received on my server. I may select multiple winners if several people get it right.

Comments will be blocked for 24 hours. Comments are now open.

UPDATE: We have a winner! The enzyme is nitrogenase from Azotobacter vinelandii. It fixes atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia by catalyzing the following reaction ...

The Nobel Laureate is Fritz Haber (1918) who worked out a chemical method of synthesizing ammonia from nitrogen.

Bryant Ing of the University of Toronto was the first person to get it right.

[Image Credit: Dixon and Kahn (2004) based on the structure PDB 1n2c by Schindelin et al. (1997)]

Dixon, R. and Kahn, D. (2004) Genetic regulation of biological nitrogen fixation. Nature Reviews Microbiology 2, 621-631. doi:10.1038/nrmicro954

Schindelin, H., Kisker, C., Schlessman, J.L., Howard, J.B. and Rees, D.C. (1997) Structure of ADP x AIF4(-)-stabilized nitrogenase complex and its implications for signal transduction. Nature 387: 370-376 [PubMed]

1 comment:

  1. Artturi Virtanen won the Chemistry Nobel in 1945 for biological studies of nitrogen fixation.