Conferences - Seminars
Electric Fields and Enzyme Catalysis
By Prof. Steven Boxer, Department of Chemistry , Stanford University
Steven Boxer is the Camille Dreyfus Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University. His research interests are in biophysics: the interface of physical chemistry, biology and engineering. Topics of current interest include: electrostatics and dynamics in proteins, especially related to enzyme catalysis; excited state dynamics of green fluorescent protein, especially split GFP, with applications in biotechnology; electron and energy transfer mechanisms in photosynthesis; and the fabrication of artificial systems to simulate, manipulate and image biological membranes. He has served on the scientific advisory board of many start-ups in the general area of biotechnology, and as an advisor to government and non-profit organizations in the U.S. and around the world. He is the recipient of several awards and is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Biophysical Society and the National Academy of Sciences.
During his talk, Prof. Boxer will present the vibrational Stark effect his lab has developped to probe electrostatics in proteins where they can report on functionally important electric fields. In a model enzyme, the field sensed at the bond involved in enzymatic catalysis is correlated with the activation energy of the reaction it catalyzes, including variations in a series of mutants and variants using non-canonical amino acids. This provides the first direct connection between electric fields and function and can be used to re-interpret results already in the literature and provide a framework for parsing the electrostatic contribution to catalysis.