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Single enzymes twist and twitch over time.

Researchers at the Ames (Iowa) Laboratory have observed the behavior of individual enzyme molecules as they catalyze reactions. Weihong Tan and Edward S. Yeung trapped single molecules of the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase in two different types of vials: the pores of a membrane sold commercially as a filter and holes drilled into a quartz slide. Each vial held just one-thousandth of a trillionth of a liter of liquid.

By monitoring the fluorescent products of the enzyme reaction, the team saw that a single enzyme molecule can change its behavior over the course of a couple of hours. "One molecule can suddenly switch to a higher reaction rate, then go back to what it was before," Yeung says.

The switching probably results when the enzyme twists into different conformations as it interacts with the walls of the vial, he explains. Drugs designed to target these other forms might show greater efficacy. The report appears in the Oct. 15 Analytical Chemistry.
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Title Annotation:experiment reveals that single enzymes can change their behavior within two hours as they catalyze reactions
Author:Wu, Corinna
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 15, 1997
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