Did you know that some scientists can reconstruct a protein’s building blocks to make it more useful and valuable to us? Those scientists are called Protein Engineers. Many protein engineers focus their work on enzymes, a type of protein that is crucial to all living things. The engineered enzymes can be used for many things, but the ultimate goal is to improve the health of the planet and its inhabitants.
See the Fall 2022 winners
Our contest finalists have created comics, infographics, and videos explaining which enzyme they would improve, and why. Browse the winners and learn about glutenase, lactase, acetylcholinsterase, papain and more!
What are enzymes, exactly?
Enzymes are catalysts that speed up chemical reactions. Think of an enzyme as a special lock that works with a fitting key (we call that key a “substrate”), and the two fit exactly into one another. Enzymes do not get used up in the process, so they can be used over and over again. Watch the videos below to learn more about enzymes.
Video length: 04:46
A fun, animated show that introduces students to a biology topic called Enzymes.
Video length: 05:46
How do enzymes and their substrates interact with each other? It is sort of like a Pac-Man game. Vocabulary covered includes active site, induced fit, coenzyme, and cofactor.
Video length: 13:12
In this fun talk and demo, chemical biologist Adam Garske shows how scientists can edit and design enzymes for specific functions.
How do enzymes work?
If you already know the basics about enzymes, these videos delve into a deeper, more scientific level to explain how enzymes work.
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This video explains the enzyme’s active site, binding specificity, models of enzyme actions, such as the lock-and-key and induced fit hypotheses, and environmental effects on enzyme function.
Video length: 01:31
Protein engineer Leann explains the concept of engineering an enzyme in this short video.
Video length: 04:51
Explore enzyme reactions and observe the mechanism of aconitase, an enzyme of the citric acid cycle, to understand how enzymes utilize their amino acid residues to catalyze a reaction.
Reading time: 3 minutes
The article discusses what is “true” protein engineering, how protein engineers perform their work, and applications for engineered proteins.
Video length: 07:16
This video covers topics such as induced-fit binding, stereospecific substrate recognition, covalent bonds and different types of enzymes.
Put Enzymes To Work
Enzymes are used in many different areas, from fermenting food to treating rare diseases. Select a focus area below to learn fascinating examples of enzymes at work. Explore the different applications to gather ideas for your video contest submission.
Enzymes & Food
Enzymes in our body help break down food. Enzymes are also used in many food production processes such as cheese making process. Engineered enzymes can be used to further improve the efficiency of certain manufacturing steps, or to enable new innovations.
Video length: 04:15
Fun and visual demonstrations on how several digestive enzymes work to break down food.
Video length: 02:29
This video demonstrates how the digestive tract works and where digestive enzymes enter the cycle.
Video length: 05:02
A science experiment demonstration on how enzymes in pineapple react with gelatin after being combined.
Video length: 03:19
Explanation of what an enzyme does and examples of how digestive enzymes interact with food.
Video length: 03:23
Application of the enzyme, invertase, in the production of sweet treats with gooey centers.
Life sciences is the study of living organisms, and scientists in this space work closely with protein engineers to develop better research tools, more accurate diagnostic tests, and make other improvements that can benefit our health.
Video length: 01:51
Learn how biosensors work, how they help patients with diseases, such as diabetes, and components needed to make a biosensor.
Video length: 05:00
Proteomics is the study of proteins and their relationships. It can unlock insights into bacterial resistance, better pharmaceuticals and more.
Video length: 02:12
Nikki and Dan explain the two types of diabetes and how injecting synthetic insulin, a protein, can help diabetic patients regulate blood sugar levels.
Video length: 04:15
Create an insulin model with this step-by-step guide. Explanations of the chemistry of amino acid chains and details of the insulin structure is provided.
Video length: 01:06
This visualization shows DNA polymerase creating copies of DNA. Watch to see a representation of how fast DNA replication happens in eukaryotic cells in ‘real-time’.
What do a pair of stonewash jeans and a bottle of contact lens cleaner have in common? Enzymes. Watch these videos to learn more about how enzymes are help us in our daily life.
Video length: 05:12
This video uses illustrations and mini-quizzes to teach you how proteases and lipases in biological detergents break down stains on your clothes.
Video length: 11:21
This engaging TED Talk takes you on a tour starting at the dishwasher and ending in the closet, exploring how enzymes improve our everyday lives.
Video length: 06:07
Reading time: 6 minutes
Enzymes are used to make cheese, extract juice, tan leather and much more. Learn how enzymes help across a broad range of industrial processes.
Video length: 06:07
This short animated video runs through many applications of enzymes, from jeans to contact lens cleaners, telling you a bit about each type of enzyme.
Video length: 05:49
This video explains how enzymes break down certain plastics, and how enzymatic recycling compares to mechanical recycling.
Developing proteins and enzymes can help produce much-needed drugs faster and aid in working more effectively. Applications include small-molecule APIs, antibody-drug conjugates and biocatalysis cascades.
Reading time: 2 minutes
Read about how enzymes are applied in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and in drug manufacturing.
For patients living with enzyme deficiencies, like PKU or lysosomal storage disease, effective treatments, such as enzyme therapy, not only can increase patients’ life span but also can improve their quality of life. Many protein engineers focus their efforts in the discovery and development of those treatments.
Video length: 5:19
Reading time: 10 minutes
PKU is a rare metabolic disease which can lead to severe brain disorders. Enzymes play a key role in the pharmaceutical treatments used for PKU.
Video length: 4:20
Reading time: 30 minutes
Fabry disease is caused by mutations in the GLA gene. Some treatments for Fabry disease aim to increase residual enzyme activity.
Video length: 17:07
Take a deep dive into nine lysosomal storage diseases: inherited metabolic diseases where enzyme deficiencies cause build-up of toxic materials.
Video length: 3:30
Get the lowdown on what gene therapy is and how it works – why viruses are used as a carrier to deliver genes, and the two main kinds of gene therapy.
Video length: 02:40
What is Hemophilia? What role do proteins play in coagulation? And how can protein engineers help? Let Cristina tell you more.
Are you a Parent or Teacher?
For Parents & Guardians
The intent of this website is to educate students about the various aspects of protein engineering, and encourage them to explore more in the scientific field. Children under the age of 18 require a parent or guardian’s permission to enter the Future Protein Engineers Video Contest. Find more information on the Contest Rules & Guidelines page.
Interested in turning the Future Proteins Engineers Video Contest into a class project? Contact us (FPE@codexis.com) to learn more about incorporating the Future Protein Engineers Video Contest and other content on protein engineering into your curriculum.
A teacher who participated in the Fall 2020 contest shared:
“The contest really augmented my curriculum, especially during distance learning in the time of COVID, and gave students something meaningful to focus on. It helped them model what we have been studying in Biology, a very useful science practice, and see the real life applications of the theory.”