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A molecular perspective on the limits of life: Enzymes under pressure

TitleA molecular perspective on the limits of life: Enzymes under pressure
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHuang Q., Tran K.N, Rodgers J.M, Bartlett DH, Hemley R.J, Ichiye T.
JournalCondensed Matter Physics
Date Published2016/04
Type of ArticleReview
ISBN Number1607-324X
Accession NumberWOS:000373130000002
Keywords3-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase; barophilic bacteria; coli dihydrofolate-reductase; deep-sea; enzymes; escherichia-coli; high hydrostatic-pressure; Hydrostatic pressure; infrared-spectroscopy; intracellular environment; mariana trench; shewanella-benthica db21mt-2; staphylococcal nuclease; transform

From a purely operational standpoint, the existence of microbes that can grow under extreme conditions, or "extremophiles," leads to the question of how the molecules making up these microbes can maintain both their structure and function. While microbes that live under extremes of temperature have been heavily studied, those that live under extremes of pressure have been neglected, in part due to the difficulty of collecting samples and performing experiments under the ambient conditions of the microbe. However, thermodynamic arguments imply that the effects of pressure might lead to different organismal solutions than from the effects of temperature. Observationally, some of these solutions might be in the condensed matter properties of the intracellular milieu in addition to genetic modifications of the macromolecules or repair mechanisms for the macromolecules. Here, the effects of pressure on enzymes, which are proteins essential for the growth and reproduction of an organism, and some adaptations against these effects are reviewed and amplified by the results from molecular dynamics simulations. The aim is to provide biological background for soft matter studies of these systems under pressure.

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