Bioinspired Design and Directed Evolution of Iron Containing Enzymes for Green Synthetic Processes and Bioremediation

EPA Grant Number: SU833912
Title: Bioinspired Design and Directed Evolution of Iron Containing Enzymes for Green Synthetic Processes and Bioremediation
Investigators: Solomon, Edward I. , Bell, III, Caleb B. , Liu, Lei , Wong, Shaun D.
Institution: Stanford University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2008 through August 14, 2009
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Enzymes are nature’s catalysts, performing highly-efficient and highly-specific chemical transformations – these typically result in very low levels of polluting byproducts and thus could potentially be used for bioremediation, conversion of chemical energy, and production of medicinal agents in an environmentally-friendly manner. We propose using a detailed mechanistic understanding of intermediates employed by biological systems as a basis for synthetic design or directed evolution, to achieve green synthetic processes and bioremediative agents. Our challenge is to create catalysts (natural or synthetic) that match the efficiency of nature and are economically-viable, while contributing a minimal amount of pollution to the environment. Three iron containing enzyme systems, methane monooxygenase (MMO), benzoate 1,2-dihydrodiol oxygenase (BZDOS) and the halogenase CytC3, catalyze environmentally- or commercially-important processes and will be used as templates for bioinspired design and/or directed evolution.


The reaction mechanisms of these enzymes are unknown because geometric descriptions of their key intermediates are not currently available. We propose using nuclear resonance vibrational spectroscopy to obtain this information. These data will be coupled to electronic characterizations of these enzyme intermediates to provide a detailed description of the reaction mechanism. With knowledge of their reaction mechanisms, we will proceed to design biomimetic inorganic model complexes, and/or engineer the natural enzymes for industrial use in Phase II of this Grant. Our target enzyme systems have applications for removal of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere (MMO), alternative energy sources (MMO), bioremediation (BZDOS), and environmentally friendly chemical syntheses (BZDOS and CytC3).

Supplemental Keywords:

Materials and chemicals, green chemistry, biotechnology, alternative energy, environmentally-benign,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report