Synthetic, Switchable Enzymes

Norris, Vic; Krylov, Sergey N.; Agarwal, Pratul K. and White, Glenn J. (2017). Synthetic, Switchable Enzymes. Journal of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, 27(2) pp. 117–127.



The construction of switchable, radiation-controlled, aptameric enzymes – “swenzymes” – is, in principle, feasible. We propose a strategy to make such catalysts from 2 (or more) aptamers each selected to bind specifically to one of the substrates in, for example, a 2-substrate reaction. Construction of a combinatorial library of candidate swenzymes entails selecting a set of a million aptamers that bind one substrate and a second set of a million aptamers that bind the second substrate; the aptamers in these sets are then linked pairwise by a linker, thus bringing together the substrates. In the presence of the substrates, some linked aptamer pairs catalyze the reaction when exposed to external energy in the form of a specific frequency of low intensity, nonionizing electromagnetic or acoustic radiation. Such swenzymes are detected via a separate product-capturing aptamer that changes conformation on capturing the product; this altered conformation allows it (1) to bind to every potential swenzyme in its vicinity (thereby giving a higher probability of capture to the swenzymes that generate the product) and (2) to bind to a sequence on a magnetic bead (thereby permitting purification of the swenzyme plus product-capturing aptamer by precipitation). Attempts to implement the swenzyme strategy may help elucidate fundamental problems in enzyme catalysis.

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