Can You Program a Protein?
Trees and other plants turn sunlight into fuel without using rare minerals or finicky conditions. Scientists are writing the design guide for stripped-down molecules that could one day turn sunlight into fuel to heat homes and run manufacturing plants. The challenge is the intricacy of the steps involved. Scientists have uncovered a new way to design those first steps. They programmed a simple protein bundle to capture sunlight, excite electrons, and move those electrons. Their work writes a new section in the design guide and, one day, could lead to molecules that mimic leaves and create fuel from sunshine. Scientists at the Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center, led by the Washington University in St. Louis, did the research.
Lichtenstein BR, C Bialas, JF Cerda, BA Fry, PL Dutton, and CC Moser. 2015. "Designing Light-Activated Charge-Separating Proteins with a Naphthoquinone Amino Acid." Angewandte Chemie International Edition 54(46):13626-13629. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201507094