One enzyme. Many roles.
Proteins within all organisms called enzymes are key to critical life processes. Scientists have studied an intriguing enzyme in sharks that regulates blood chemistry inside the gills of the sea’s top
predator. In humans, the same enzyme has a similar function, aiding kidneys in regulating blood and urine functions. Yet within certain deep-sea worms, the very same enzyme has a vastly different job: to secrete acid to dissolve the bones of dead animal carcasses so that they can be consumed by the worms.
Physiologist Martín Tresguerres, an assistant professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, has spent recent years analyzing this enzyme, called a proton pump enzyme and abbreviated as VHA, in a range of organisms, and has been fascinated by the enzyme’s varying roles among organisms.
Now, in an award-winning project, Tresguerres and colleagues including Scripps postdoctoral scholar Katie Barott have discovered VHA’s niche within coral species around the world. Click here to continue reading.