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Chemical Origami Yields New Plant Compounds

Chemical Origami Yields New Plant Compounds

Plants produce countless kinds of compounds, also known as natural products. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences focuses on triterpenes, a large group of plant natural products with a range of biological functions and potential uses in medicine and other fields. The researchers report that changing the genetic code for one amino acid in a plant begins a process that alters the shape and function of an enzyme, which changes the folding of the chemical precursor. The technique is like chemical origami and produces a new natural product with a variety of potential uses. “Changing or modifying plants is not a new concept,” says study co-author Robert Minto from Indiana University. “In the PNAS study, we changed a single amino acid in an enzyme from the root tip of the oat plant to alter the function of a single enzyme. Being able to go in and do that directly is much more efficient than cross-breeding plants.”

sciencedaily.com