Chemistry is truly the central science and underpins much of the efforts of scientists and engineers to improve life for humankind. TheMIT Department of Chemistryis taking a leading role in discovering new chemical synthesis, catalysis, creating sustainable energy, theoretical and experimental understanding of chemistry, improving the environment, detecting and curing disease, developing materials new properties, and nanoscience.
The Chemistry Education Office staff is responsible for administering the educational programs in the Department of Chemistry. Students can find answers to many questions about the undergraduate and graduate programs on the department website, and they are encouraged to stop by and see the staff in the office located in 6-205.
The student-run outreach programs in the Department of Chemistry aim to bring the excitement of chemical sciences to the community through lively demonstrations designed to illustrate a broad range of chemical principles. Graduate students visit science classes in high schools and middle schools in the Greater Boston area with a view to demystifying chemistry through hands-on experiments. ClubChem, an undergraduate chemistry organization, conducts Chemistry Magic Shows for elementary schools and youth programs in the Greater Boston area.
Chemistry is truly the central science and underpins much of the efforts of scientists and engineers to improve life for humankind. MIT Chemistry is taking a leading role in discovering new chemical synthesis, catalysis, creating sustainable energy, theoretical and experimental understanding of chemistry at its most fundamental level, unraveling the biochemical complexities of natural systems, improving the environment, detecting and curing disease, developing materials new properties, and nanoscience.
Mechanism of natural product DNA Cleavers used clinically: our interests include: 2D NMR methods to determine the structures of the drugs bound to DNA, synthesis and structure of the deoxyribose lesions generated by the drugs and mechanism of repair of these lesions;
Mechanism and Regulation of Ribonucleotide Ruductases: our interests include study of clinically active compounds that inactivate reductases; Mechanism of metallo-cofactor assembly in vivo; mechanism of radical initiation using technology to insert unnatural amino acids into the proteins; signal transduction cascades induced by DNA damaging agents;
Polyester Biosynthesis: understanding non-template driven polymerization reactions and use of bioengineering methods to generate new biodegradable polymers;
Mechanism, Structure, and Regulation of the Purine Biosynthetic Pathway: studies to understand the importance of transient protein-protein interactions in vivo.
Ribonucleotide Reductases (RNRs): RNRs are enzymes that catalyze an essensial step in DNA replication and repair. They use unusual metallo-cofactors (a diferric tyrosyl radical, adenosylcobalamin and a glycyl radical). These cofactors serve as radical initiators to generate a cysteinyl radical that initiates radical dependent nucleotide reduction at homologous active sites. Studies are ongoing to understand: the biosynthetic pathway for diferric-tyrosyl radical cofactor assembly in vivo in yeast; the mechanism of radical initiation over 35 Å using unnatural amino acids and the regulation of dNTP production at all levels. Collaborative efforts with the Griffin, Nocera and Drennan labs are ongoing.
Mechanism of Action Anittumor Natural Products: Metallo-bleomycins (BLMs), are natural products used clinically and act catalytically to destroy DNA. Physical organic methods have been used to understand the chemistry of DNA cleavage. Multidimensional NMR methods using colbalt-BLM and oligonucleotides have been used to elucidate the basis for the chemical and sequence specificity of DNA cleavage. These studies have resulted in a proposal for how one BLM can catalyze ds-DNA cleavage without dissociation from the DNA. NMR methods are being used to investigate the structure of the lesions produced in the DNA backbone by BLM, enedynes, and ionizing radiation. These lesioned DNAs are being used as substrates to understand the mechanism of DNA repair. The genes for the biosynthetic pathways for these natural products have been identified and the glycosylation mechanism are being examined.
Enzymes Involved in Purine Biosynthesis: Understanding the regulation of the purine biosynthetic pathway and the importance of transient protein-protein interactions in the channeling of chemically reactive intermediates produced in this pathway. Our investigations have led to isolation and structural determination of all the enzymes in the pathway giving new insight into the evolution of a biosynthetic pathway. These studies have uncovered a new substrate and two new enzymes in this pathway!
Polyhydroxybutyrate Polymerase: The potential for using biological systems as a source of biodegradable thermoplastics is becoming increasingly attractive given the problems associated with oil based polymers. In collaboration with the Sinskey lab in Biology, studies on the polyhydroxybutyrate polymerases, depolymerases, transcription factors and phasin proteins that govern PHB homeostasis are in progress. The mechanism of homopolymerization reactions is being used to make novel block co-polymers.