Novel redox-elimination mechanism of enzymatic glycoside hydrolysis: A detailed study of Family 4 glycosidases

Carbohydrates are found in every facet of life, not only in metabolic pathways, but also as key mediators in intercellular communication and cellular activity. Associated with these important biomolecules are a class of enzymes—glycosidases—that contribute to the breakdown of carbohydrates, allowing for their use as an energy source by the cell. Interruption of these processes can affect cell growth by limiting the supply of available nutrients. With more than 90 different known glycosidase families, the recently-discovered Family 4 glycosidases have been shown to operate through a different mechanism. In addition, this family exists in a number of bacteria, but not in mammals. Continuing in research that was previously funded by MSFHR, Vivian Yip is performing a detailed investigation of the mechanisms of Family 4 glycosidases. Ultimately, she is interested in exploring how inhibition of these glycosidases could be used to develop antibiotics that selectively compromise bacteria, but not the host.