Abstract by David Delgado
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Enzymes are the best catalysts that can be found in nature. Enzymes are very powerful, and they are capable of orchestrating complex chemical reactions, which are often too complicated to replicate in the laboratory. The design of non-natural enzymes could have a big impact in organic synthesis because it could give access to the reactivity of enzymes while using mechanisms and reactions not found in nature. In the Michaelis lab, we synthesize and purify small polypeptide catalysts that take advantage of the helical peptide structure and proximity in order to achieve enzyme-like reactivity. In my project we have been synthesizing bifunctional catalysts for the purpose of crystallization in order to obtain X-ray crystal structures. Having an X-ray crystal structure will help us know how the catalyst structure impacts its reactivity, thus allowing us to design more efficient catalysts. In this presentation I will describe our recent efforts to synthesize and crystalize these multifunctional peptide catalysts. Improving our ability to design complex enzyme-like catalysts will lead to new and more efficient reactions.