CAREER award helps Yin develop tools to find key enzymes

August 1st, 2019

With entire genomes available for study, finding specific genes of interest is challenging. University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Yanbin Yin, a bioinformatics specialist, is creating advanced computational tools to quickly identify a class of enzymes found in all living organisms.

Yin’s tools are aiding research, including his own, into human gut health, biofuel production, crop diseases and our evolutionary past.

“If you sequence a plant or bacterial genome, there are probably tens of thousands of genes. But just 5% of those genes are these enzymes,” said Yin, associate professor of food science and technology. “If you do experiments, it could take 20 or 30 years to figure it out. With this software system, you can do it in five minutes.”

Yin and his team focus on carbohydrate-active enzymes, or CAZymes, the enzymes that produce, modify and break down all carbohydrates. He’s building on his earlier work that identifies CAZymes within genetic code researchers upload to a website. It has proven popular, receiving 50 to 60 uploads a day, Yin said.

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Story by Gillian Klucas | Research and Economic Development