Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Yu Wang


This project stems from the desire to explore and eventually harness the enzymatic mechanism of 4-(hydroxymethyl)-2-furan-carboxaldehyde-phosphate synthase (MfnB). The enzyme of interest, MfnB, is found most prominently in methanogens and some bacteria and can catalyze five or more separate chemical transformations in a single active site. This singular enzyme takes two molecules of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate and creates a furan-containing compound, 4- (hydroxymethyl)-2-furan-carboxaldehyde-phosphate (4-HMF-P). Furan-containing compounds have been highlighted for their high potential in the production of biofuels and biomaterial compounds; thus, research efforts seek to create a more efficient synthesis process for furan compounds. The broad industrial applications of MfnB could usher in a new era for the synthesis of furan compounds to be used in the generation of liquid fuel or other valuable biomaterials via enzyme-catalyzed reactions. Despite the initial characterization of MfnB and the identification of Schiff base-forming lysine, the detailed mechanism of MfnB remains speculative. Our team seeks to understand the details of the catalytic mechanism utilizing a site-directed mutagenesis, comprehensive kinetic evaluation, and structural study.