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Little Green Molecules

Carnegie Mellon University, USA.
Scientific American (Impact Factor: 1.33). 04/2006; 294(3):82-8, 90. DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican0306-82
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Chemists have invented a new class of catalysts that can destroy some of the worst pollutants before they get into the environment

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    • "It is possible that some of the TAML activators may also be able to activate O 2 to generate a more effective oxidant (Ghosh et al. 2005). The TAML activators have also been recently shown to be effective in stimulating the killing of spores of Bacillus atrophaeus by either hydrogen peroxide or tert-butyl hydroperoxide (tBHP) (Banerjee et al. 2006; Collins and Walter 2006). However, the TAML activator used was much more effective in stimulating spore killing by tBHP than by hydrogen peroxide, perhaps because hydrogen peroxide is more susceptible to breakdown by the catalase activity of the TAML activator than is tBHP (Banerjee et al. 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the effectiveness of tert-butyl hydroperoxide (tBHP) plus the cationic surfactant cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB) and a tetra-amido macrocyclic ligand (TAML) activator in killing spores of Bacillus subtilis and the mechanisms of spore resistance to and killing by this reagent. Killing of spores of B. subtilis by tBHP was greatly stimulated by the optimum ratio of concentrations of a TAML activator (1.7 micromol l(-1)) to tBHP (4.4%, vol/vol) plus a low level (270 mg l(-1)) of CTAB. Rates of killing of spores lacking most DNA protective alpha/beta-type small, acid-soluble spore proteins (alpha(-)beta(-) spores) or the major DNA repair protein, RecA, by tBHP plus CTAB and a TAML activator were essentially identical to that of wild-type spore killing. Survivors of wild-type and alpha(-)beta(-) spores treated with tBHP plus CTAB and a TAML activator also exhibited no increase in mutations. Spores lacking much coat protein either because of mutation or chemical decoating were much more sensitive to this reagent than were wild-type spores, but were more resistant than growing cells. Wild-type spores killed with this reagent retained their large pool of dipicolinic acid (DPA), and the survivors of spores treated with this reagent were sensitized to wet heat. The tBHP plus CTAB and TAML activator-killed spores germinated with nutrients, albeit more slowly than untreated spores, but germinated faster than untreated spores with dodecylamine. The killed spores were also germinated by application of 150 and 500 megaPascals of pressure for 15 min and by lysozyme treatment in hypertonic medium, but these spores lysed shortly after their germination. The combination of tBHP plus CTAB and a TAML activator is effective in killing B. subtilis spores. The spore coat is a major factor in spore resistance to this reagent system, which does not kill spores by DNA damage or by inactivating some component needed for spore germination. Rather, this reagent system appears to kill spores by damaging the spore's inner membrane in some fashion. This work demonstrates that tBHP plus CTAB and a TAML activator is an effective and mild decontaminant for spores of Bacillus species. Evidence has also been obtained on the mechanisms of spore resistance to and killing by this reagent system.
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