Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Mechanism of the enzymatic synthesis of furan-containing compound

Professor Yu Wang
Professor Yu Wang
University of North Georgia
Chemistry Building, Room 400
Organic Seminar

This research 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 has the ability to catalyze five or more separate chemical transformations in a single active site. This singular enzyme takes two molecules of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate to create a furan-containing compound 4-(hydroxymethyl)-2-furan-carboxaldehyde-phosphate. The US. Department of Energy (DOE) has published a list of the “Top 10 + 4” bio-based chemicals, with furan-containing compounds highlighted for their high potential in the production of biofuels and biomaterial compounds(1). As one can imagine, industrial applications of MfnB might usher in a new era for the synthesis of furan compounds to be used in the generation of liquid fuel or other biomaterial via enzyme-catalyzed reactions. Despite the initial characterization of MfnB and the identification of Schiff base-forming lysine, the detail mechanism of MfnB remains speculative (2). Our team seeks to understand the details of catalytic mechanism through site-directed mutagenesis, comprehensive kinetic evaluation and structural study. Uncovering the molecular basis of this catalytic mystery will help us in applying the knowledge to enzyme engineering. The engineered catalytic machinery can then be used for generating building block compounds to meet the needs of industrial biofuel and other biomaterial products.


1. Werpy, T.; Petersen, G. Top Value Added Chemicals from Biomass Vol. I-Results of Screening for Potential Candidates from Sugars and Synthesis Gas, NREL/TP-510-35523; National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Golden, CO, 2004.

2. Wang, Y., Jones, M. K., Xu, H., Ray, W. K., and White, R. H. (2015) Mechanism of the Enzymatic Synthesis of 4-(Hydroxymethyl)-2-furancarboxaldehyde-phosphate (4-HFC-P) from Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate catalyzed by 4-HFC-P synthase. Biochemistry 54, 2997–3008

Support Us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.

Got More Questions?

Undergraduate inquiries: 

Registration and credit

AP Credit, Section Changes, Overrides,

Graduate inquiries:

Contact Us!

Assistant to the Department Head: Donna Spotts, 706-542-1919 

Main office phone: 706-542-1919 

Main Email:

Head of Chemistry: Prof. Jason Locklin