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insight review articles NATURE | VOL 409 | 11 JANUARY 2001 | www.nature.com 253

Summary: insight review articles
NATURE | VOL 409 | 11 JANUARY 2001 | www.nature.com 253
iological systems are masterful chemists -- a
fact long appreciated by those who study how
living things build complex molecules and
systems from simple compounds. Enzymes
catalyse the interconversion of a vast number
of molecular structures, achieving tasks that range from
the fixation of nitrogen to the synthesis of large and
intricately structured molecules that ward off predators or
attract mates. Such catalysts are models of energy-efficient,
environmentally benign chemical agents, as virtually all do
their work under mild conditions -- in water, at room
temperature and atmospheric pressure -- and generate
few waste products.
In view of increasing environmental and economic
pressure to use renewable sources for energy and chemical
feedstocks in industry, biocatalysts look like potentially
attractive technological tools. But enzymes have evolved to


Source: Arnold, Frances H. - Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology


Collections: Chemistry; Biology and Medicine