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Home » Biology Homework Help » Biotechnology » Extremozymes
Extremozymes
Many enzymes function optimally under extreme conditions of temperature, pH etc.; they are called extremozymes. For example, about 30 enzymes have been isolated from hyperthermophile (optimal growth at or above 100˚C), sulfur-reducing bacteria; their optimal temperatures for catalysis are above 100˚C and some of them have half-life of several days at the optimum temperatures. Such enzymes are called high temperature enzymes. A hyperthermophile organism may be defined as an organism that grows at 90˚C and above with optimum growth at 80˚C or above. Only two of the 20 odd hyperthermophile genera known so far are conventional bacteria, the remaining being classified as Archaea (formerly Archaebacteria). In the 1970s, Archaea were recognized as a distinct kingdom of lif. Hyperthermophiles are the most ancient forms of life. Almost all hyperthermophiles are strict anaerobes and strict organotrophs that use complex organic mixtures as sources of C and N. Most of them must reduce elemental sulphur to hydrogen sulphide for optimal growth.

Several enzymes have been isolated from hyperthermophiles, e.g. protease, amylase, -glucosidase, hydrogenase, glutamate dehydrogenase, DNA polymerase etc. The interest in these enzymes arises because they may be used for catalysis under high temperatures which in some cases may offer unique advantages. An example is provided by hyperthermostable DNA polymerases; these are essential for PCR. So far, 3 high temperature DNA polymerases are commercially available. The enzyme obtained from Pyrococcus furiosus takes 20 hr at 95˚C to lose 50% of catalytic activity, while that from Thermococcus litoralis takes 7 hr. This very high thermal stability of these DNA polymerases is very useful for PCR work since such enzymes need to be added only at the start of PCR, and there is no decline in the enzyme activity with the progression of PCR cycles.     

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