Determining the Nature of Enzymes

UC Riverside’s Leonard Mueller receives National Institutes of Health research grant to define structure and function of enzymes at the molecular level

Manufactured by all plant and animal cells, enzymes are proteins that work as catalysts in biochemical reactions, dramatically increasing the reaction rates.  All cells require enzymes to survive and function. Without enzymes we would not be able to breathe, swallow, drink, eat, or digest our food.

Yet, molecular-level details of enzyme mechanisms remain elusive.

Leonard J. Mueller

Leonard J. Mueller is an associate professor of chemistry at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Mueller lab, UC Riverside.

Leonard J. Mueller, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of California, Riverside, has received a five-year $1.43 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish a highly integrated, multidisciplinary approach to defining the structure and function of enzymes at the molecular level.

He will be joined by faculty from the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the research project, and will use a synergistic combination of techniques, including X-ray crystallography, solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance, synthetic organic chemistry, and computational chemistry.

“While each of these techniques applied in isolation offers a glimpse of the bigger picture, only when pieced together can they reveal the big picture at highest resolution,” said Mueller, the principal investigator of the grant. “The goal of our project is to bring these techniques together at atomic resolution.  Our results should be useful to designers of new antibiotics and therapeutic agents.”

Mueller joined UC Riverside in 1998.  He received his doctoral degree in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1997, following which he did postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His lab focuses on characterizing the structure of molecules that range in size from small molecules in solution to larger biomolecules such as proteins, DNA, and carbohydrates.

He has been selected to receive the UCR Distinguished Teaching Award for 2011-2012.

The following researchers at UCR will join Mueller in the study: Chia-en Chang, Michael Dunn, Li Fan and Michael Marsella.

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Leonard J. Mueller
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