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It takes a(n academic) village to determine enzyme's function

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Scientists have sequenced the genomes of nearly 6,900 organisms, but they know the functions of only about half of the protein-coding genes thus far discovered. Now a multidisciplinary effort involving 15 scientists from three institutions has begun chipping away at this mystery ā€“ in a big way. Their work to identify the function of one bacterial protein and the biochemical pathway in which it operates will also help identify the functions of hundreds of other proteins.

A report of their new approach and findings appears in the journal Nature.

The research team used computational methods combined with a broad array of laboratory techniques to narrow the list of possible small molecules that interact with the unknown protein, an enzyme (now known as HpbD), and to identify its role in its host, the marine bacterium Pelagibaca bermudensis.

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