NSF Funds Liu Group to Conduct Biosynthetic Study
Prof. Pinghua Liu and his Group pursue highly interdisciplinary research involving organic synthesis, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and enzymology. This combined expertise will be used to conduct their 3-year National Science Foundation Funded project, “Mechanistic Studies of New C-S Bond Formation Chemistries.”
Ergothioneine is a unique thiol-imidazole-containing natural amino acid isolated nearly a century ago. Due to its unusual redox properties, it plays many beneficial roles in human health (e.g., conserving/maintaining antioxidant levels). It can be used as one of the key components in many commercial products, including dietary supplements, personal care products (skin care and cosmetics), and veterinary products. The Liu Group investigations will allow them to fully establish ergothioneine in an in vitro catalytic system and differentiate among several proposed mechanistic models. These studies will guide the future production of ergothioneine using a synthetic biology approach.
In addition to the science, this research program will provide an interdisciplinary environment in which to train undergraduate, graduate, and high school students in how to investigate major problems at the interface of Chemistry and Biology.