Enzymes are biological catalysts which speed up chemical reactions, and are often part of sequential pathways. The speed of these chemical reactions is essential to the viability and efficiency of processes across many industries, including: pharmaceuticals, waste management and food production. However, many of these reactions are slowed down by significant distances between enzyme catalysts in solution, which can then also lead to unwanted reactions involving intermediate substrates in multi-step reactions.
We have designed a novel protein scaffold onto which we can attach the enzymes of any pathway, creating an assembly line of chemical reactions. By bringing several enzymes together onto a scaffold, we can control (and reduce) the distance the intermediate products of a reaction are required to diffuse to reach the next enzyme. We hope to demonstrate greatly increased rates of reaction, which may be quite useful in many industrial processes, and discuss implications of this with various stakeholders; particularly those in industry.
We are aiming to speed up biochemical reactions so that we can increase their level of productivity. This research doesn't just help scientists gain a new perspective on enzymatic reactions; it also has real world applications. Speeding up biochemical reactions could lower the cost and time of production for many everyday items, such as antibiotics, laundry detergent, and fermented food and beverages. Furthermore, our enzyme scaffold could also be used in the bioremediation and degradation of pollutants in our environment, such as plastics and petro-chemicals, to make them non-toxic. We project that the use of our scaffold with relevant bioremediation enzymes may lower the time required to restore our environment to its prior healthy state.
This year UNSW is entering its largest and most interdisciplinary team yet. We are made up of eleven undergraduate students, with backgrounds in the medical sciences, cell and molecular biology, engineering, education, and law. We are all enthusiastic about scientific research and excited about our project, which we hope to use to expand the synthetic biologist’s toolkit.
Being one of only two iGEM teams based in Australia, we would love to chat to teams from all over the world to talk about iGEM and our project. Let us know about any collaboration requests you may have or check out the current collaborations we are running below!
Enzymes Teaching Resource
We are compiling a teaching resource to help teach high school students about enzymes.
Email us to find out more!