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Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday's Molecule #179

Last week we discovered two chemically similar reactions that were catalyzed by related enzymes of the same gene family [Monday's Molecule #178]. Today's molecule is a lot more important than any of the four molecules from last week although you won't find it in most biochemistry textbooks. (Surprise! It's in my book.)

What is this molecule (IUBMB name) and why is it important?

Post your answer as a comment. I'll hold off releasing any comments for 24 hours. The first one with the correct answer wins. I will only post mostly correct answers to avoid embarrassment. The winner will be treated to a free lunch with a very famous person, or me.

There could be two winners. If the first correct answer isn't from an undergraduate student then I'll select a second winner from those undergraduates who post the correct answer. You will need to identify yourself as an undergraduate in order to win. (Put "undergraduate" at the bottom of your comment.)

Some past winners are from distant lands so their chances of taking up my offer of a free lunch are slim. (That's why I can afford to do this!)

In order to win you must post your correct name. Anonymous and pseudoanonymous commenters can't win the free lunch.

Winners will have to contact me by email to arrange a lunch date. Please try and beat the regular winners. Most of them live far away and I'll never get to take them to lunch. This makes me sad.

Comments are invisible for 24 hours. Comments are now open.

UPDATE: The molecule is 2-carboxy-3-ketoarabinitol 1,5-bisphosphate, an intermediate in the reaction catalyzed by rubisco (ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carbozylase-oxygenase). This is the main enzyme responsible for carbon dioxide fixation in plants and one of the most enzymes on the planet.

This week's winners are Bill Chaney and Raul A. Félix de Sousa.

Nov. 2009: Jason Oakley, Alex Ling
Oct. 17: Bill Chaney, Roger Fan
Oct. 24: DK
Oct. 31: Joseph C. Somody
Nov. 7: Jason Oakley
Nov. 15: Thomas Ferraro, Vipulan Vigneswaran
Nov. 21: Vipulan Vigneswaran (honorary mention to Raul A. Félix de Sousa)
Nov. 28: Philip Rodger
Dec. 5: 凌嘉誠 (Alex Ling)
Dec. 12: Bill Chaney
Dec. 19: Joseph C. Somody
Jan. 9: Dima Klenchin
Jan. 23: David Schuller
Jan. 30: Peter Monaghan
Feb. 7: Thomas Ferraro, Charles Motraghi
Feb. 13: Joseph C. Somody
March 5: Albi Celaj
March 12: Bill Chaney, Raul A. Félix de Sousa
March 19: no winner
March 26: John Runnels, Raul A. Félix de Sousa
April 2: Sean Ridout
April 9: no winner
April 16: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
April 23: Dima Klenchin, Deena Allan
April 30: Sean Ridout
May 7: Matt McFarlane
May 14: no winner
May 21: no winner
May 29: Mike Hamilton, Dmitri Tchigvintsev
June 4: Bill Chaney, Matt McFarlane
June 18: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
June 25: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
July 2: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
July 16: Sean Ridout, William Grecia
July 23: Raul A. Félix de Sousa
July 30: Bill Chaney and Raul A. Félix de Sousa


  1. This is 3-keto-2-carboxyarabinitol-1,5-bisphosphate, the product of the reaction between ribulose 1,5 bisphosphate and carbon dioxide, an intermediate in carbon fixation by plants. It immediately decays to two molecules of glycerate-3-phosphate.

    This reaction is catalyzed by Ribulose Bisphosphate carboxylase (RuBisCO), which is the most abundant protein in the leaves of plants..

  2. Raul A. Félix de SousaMonday, July 30, 2012 6:36:00 PM

    Molecule # 179 is 2-carboxy-3-ketoarabinitol 1,5-bisphosphate, which is generated by the carboxylation of ribulose 1,5 bisphosphate, and is quickly decomposed to 3-phosphoglycerate. This carboxylation is part of the Calvin-Benson cycle, and it is also the gateway though which all the carbon fixation in photosynthetic organisms occurs.