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Researchers Discover Enzyme That Harnesses Light To Make Hydrocarbons

Researchers from the Biosciences and Biotechnologies Institute of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission have discovered a new light-driven enzyme, christened fatty acid photodecarboxylase (FAP), that uses blue light to drive the removal of carboxyl groups from fatty acids to form alkanes or alkenes. Such an enzyme could be used as fuel with no further modification. The Biological SCENE reports: FAP joins a select group of so-called photoenzymes, including DNA-repair enzymes called photolyases, that use light for catalysis on their own rather than functioning as part of a larger complex such as photosystems I or II, which are used by plants and algae for photosynthesis. FAP contains flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), which commonly serves as a redox cofactor in biological reactions. In the case of FAP, however, FAD absorbs blue light to reach an excited state that abstracts an electron from the carboxylate group of a C12 to C18 fatty acid, which then decarboxylates to yield an alkane or alkene. The study has been published in the journal Science. Further reading: Ars Technica

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