So Young Bae, MCBB PhD student in the Tolan Lab, won the Journal of Chemical Crystallography poster prize at the recent international meeting of the American Crystallographic Association in Baltimore Maryland this past July 2023. The American Crystallographic Association is the preeminent society supporting structural science at all levels and disciplines. The Journal of Chemical Crystallography Poster Prize recognizes the best student, graduate or undergraduate, poster presentation in the area of chemical crystallography.

So Young’s poster was entitled, “Mode of Substrate Binding for Ketohexokinase across Isozymes and Species Implies an Induced-fit Mechanism.”  Her award was acknowledged at the closing banquet. Her presentation showed that one of the most important isozymes, ketohexokinase-A (KHK-A), which is involved in moonlighting as a protein kinase and has roles in regulating expression of genes important in cancer cells, can undergo a conformational change. She showed this structural change by solving the first ever structure of mouse KHK-A by X-ray crystallography and revealing differences in structure from what was previously known. She also solved the structure of human KHK-A in complex with one of it’s natural substrates, fructose. This structure revealed yet another distinct structural difference from the either the unbound enzyme or the enzyme bound with both substrates. Her work will eventually determine if these structural changes are part of the switch from a sugar kinase to a protein kinase.

Congratulations, So Young!