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Annu Rev Biochem. 2006;75:403-33.

Cold-adapted enzymes.

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1
School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. k.siddiqui@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

By far the largest proportion of the Earth's biosphere is comprised of organisms that thrive in cold environments (psychrophiles). Their ability to proliferate in the cold is predicated on a capacity to synthesize cold-adapted enzymes. These enzymes have evolved a range of structural features that confer a high level of flexibility compared to thermostable homologs. High flexibility, particularly around the active site, is translated into low-activation enthalpy, low-substrate affinity, and high specific activity at low temperatures. High flexibility is also accompanied by a trade-off in stability, resulting in heat lability and, in the few cases studied, cold lability. This review addresses the structure, function, and stability of cold-adapted enzymes, highlighting the challenges for immediate and future consideration. Because of the unique properties of cold-adapted enzymes, they are not only an important focus in extremophile biology, but also represent a valuable model for fundamental research into protein folding and catalysis.

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