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Grand challenges in cellular biochemistry: the “next-gen” biochemistry

DOI: 10.3389/fchem.2014.00022

Keywords: Biochemistry, History, RNA, Enzymes, instrumentation, advances, Discoveries, one-health

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It is said that Biochemistry is a young scientific discipline, making its “formal” debut towards the end of the 1900th century (Manchester, 2000), with seminal works by Buchner (Buchner, 1897;Jaenicke, 2007), Hill (Hill, 1898), Harden (Harden, 1911), and, of course, Michaelis and Menten (Johnson, 2013;Michaelis and Menten, 2013;Deichmann et al., 2014). Back in 1896, Buchner’s preparation of a “juice” from yeast (Buchner, 1897) is often regarded as the birth of modern biochemistry. However, I tend to digress with this strict view of biochemistry, reasoning that we (as a species) were taking advantage of biochemical principles without having a deep understanding of the molecular process. For instance, consider Buchner’s “juice” or actually wine making. This method, that has at its core the fermentation process one of the key pathways in biochemistry, dating back to around 6000 BC (Chambers and Pretorius, 2010). Refer to the complicated production of fish sauces considered among the most common flavor-enhancing condiments produced and distributed across ancient Roman Empire (Lowe, 2009). Another example comes from the mixture of organic preservatives (i.e., biochemical) used for ancient Egyptian mummification (Buckley and Evershed, 2001). This early biochemistry was empirical, done in settings other than laboratories, serving immediate needs, and probably passed onto next generations by oral traditions. Then, are these contributions valuable to the genesis of biochemistry? Should they be dismissed because the microorganisms were not genotyped, the reactions were done in dolia instead of microplates? Then, if we accept these very early facts (and why not experiments?) as part of the genesis of this field, we will need to accept that biochemistry is a long, long (ancient?) journey that have accompanied us since the dawn of civilization. The general field of Biochemistry has grown since then to the point that it has been expanded to various more specific areas of research. For example, Cellular Biochemistry is at the crossroads of Chemistry (Organic, Physical, Analytical, Inorganic, Biological) and Biology (Chemical, Molecular) including studies on biomolecular structures and the mechanism of biochemical reactions, but also on the biological purposes of biochemical phenomena, i.e., metabolic pathways and their control, physiological significance and clinical relevance of topics presented. The regulation includes protein and gene expression analyses as well as protein post-translational modifications, epigenetic controls, metabolite-control systems, and


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