New "Guiding" Protein Discovered
by Jocelyn Kaiser
Compared to nature's chemical wizardry, human chemists are all thumbs.
Inside plant cells, for instance, tiny chemical factories manage to
crank out just one version of a chemical flawlessly, while most test-tube
reactions yield messy mixtures of many isomers. But now
researchers report on page 362 that they have discovered what appears to
be a whole new class of compounds, so-called "dirigent"
proteins that seem to grab and maneuver chemical building blocks so they
join in the proper orientation. The finding could be a boon for
drug companies and the paper industry. "