Robert White

Assoc Professor

Education

Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Illinois, 1974

B.S., Chemistry, University of Indiana, 1968

Experience

  • 1985 – present: Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg.
  • Nov. 1979  – 1985: Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • 1976  – 1979: Lecturer/Spectroscopist, Department of Biochemistry, Rice University, Houston, Texas,
  • 1974 – 1976: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Chemistry, University of California, San Diego
  • 1970 – 1974: Predoctoral NIH Trainee, Department of Biochemistry, University of Illinois, 
  • 1969 – 1970: Part-time Researcher, University of Hawaii 1965 – 1968: Undergraduate Researcher, Department of Chemistry, University of Indiana,
  • 1965 - 1968: Undergraduate Researcher, Department of Biochemistry, University of Kentucky (summers)

Courses Taught

  • BCHM 4124: Laboratory Problems in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • BCHM 4994: Undergraduate Research
  • BCHM 5004: Seminar in Biochemistry
  • BCHM 5304 Enzyme Kinetics and Reaction Mechanisms

Other Teaching and Advising

  • Undergraduate advisor.

Program Focus

The goal of work in my lab is to establish the full extent of microbiological metabolism occurring on our planet so that we will have the ability to accurately extrapolate back in time to reveal the true nature of the original metabolism and thus the origin of life.  Genomic data clearly indicate that much-unknown metabolism exists.  The problem is how to most efficiently reveal this metabolism.  Considering the small-scale operation of my lab I decided some time ago that the way to proceed was to establish the function of the genes in the hyprothermophilic archaea Methanocaldococcus jannaschii.   This organism has a small genome with less than 2000 genes of which 1000 are annotated.  To further reduce the size of this list I have selected coenzyme biosynthetic genes and so called “invisible genes” to be specific genes/enzymes which I consider will most efficiently reveal to us new and novel biochemistry. This work will identify about 15% of the unknown genes in this organism.  To accomplish this work the lab does genomic and physiological comparisons of microorganisms, develops enzyme assay, syntheses substrates, does structural characterization of coenzymes, establishes new metabolism, isolates enzymes, generates recombinant enzymes, and does mechanism studies on the isolated enzymes.  For the last step of this work we go out side of the lab for the X-ray structures. 

Dr. White's PubMed Site

  • White, R. H. (2008) Biochemical origins of lactaldehyde and hydroxyacetone in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii, Biochemistry 47, 5037-5046.
  • White, R. H. (2010) The twists and turns of enzyme function, J. Bacteriol. 192, 2023-2025.
  • White, R. H. (2010) Identification, source, and metabolism of N-ethylglutamate in Escherichia coli, J. Bacteriol. 192, 5437-5440.
  • White, R. H. (2011) The Conversion of a Phenol to an Aniline Occurs in the Biochemical Formation of the 1-(4-Aminophenyl)-1-deoxy-d-ribitol Moiety in Methanopterin, Biochemistry 50, 6041-6052.
  • Decamps, L., Philmus, B., Benjdia, A., White, R., Begley, T. P., and Berteau, O. (2012) Biosynthesis of Fo, precursor of the F420 cofactor, requires a unique two radical-SAM domain enzyme and tyrosine as substrate, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 134, 18173-18176.
  • Miller, D., Xu, H., and White, R. H. (2012) A new subfamily of agmatinases present in methanogenic Archaea is Fe(II) dependent, Biochemistry 51, 3067-3078.
  • Crecy-Lagard, V., Phillips, G., Grochowski, L. L., Yacoubi, B. E., Jenney, F., Adams, M. W., Murzin, A. G., and White, R. H. (2012) Comparative genomics guided discovery of two missing archaeal enzyme families involved in the biosynthesis of the pterin moiety of tetrahydromethanopterin and tetrahydrofolate, ACS Chem. Biol. 7, 1807-1816.
  • Phillips, G., Grochowski, L. L., Bonnett, S., Xu, H., Bailly, M., Blaby-Haas, C., El Yacoubi, B., Iwata-Reuyl, D., White, R. H., and de Crecy-Lagard, V. (2012) Functional promiscuity of the COG0720 family, ACS Chem Biol 7, 197-209.
  • Brown, A. M., Hoopes, S. L., White, R. H., and Sarisky, C. A. (2011) Purine biosynthesis in archaea: variations on a theme, Biol Direct 6, 63-84.
  • Mashhadi, Z., Xu, H., Grochowski, L. L., and White, R. H. (2010) Archaeal RibL: a new FAD synthetase that is air sensitive, Biochemistry 49, 8748-8755.
  • Mashhadi, Z., Xu, H., and White, R. H. (2009) An Fe2+-dependent cyclic phosphodiesterase catalyzes the hydrolysis of 7,8-dihydro-D-neopterin 2',3'-cyclic phosphate in methanopterin biosynthesis, Biochemistry 48, 9384-9392.
  • Mashhadi, Z., Zhang, H., Xu, H., and White, R. H. (2008) Identification and characterization of an archaeon-specific riboflavin kinase, J. Bacteriol. 190, 2615-2618.
  • Liu, Y., White, R. H., and Whitman, W. B. (2010) Methanococci use the diaminopimelate aminotransferase (DapL) pathway for lysine biosynthesis, J. Bacteriol. 192, 3304-3310.
  • Grochowski, L. L., and White, R. H. (2010) Biosynthesis of the Methanogenic coenzymes, In Comprehensive Natural Products II: Chemistry and Biology (Begley, T. P., Ed.), pp 711-748, Elsevier Ltd, New York.
  • Grochowski, L. L., Xu, H. M., and White, R. H. (2006) Identification of lactaldehyde dehydrogenase in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii and its involvement in production of lactate for F420 biosynthesis, J. Bacteriol. 188, 2836-2844.
  • Grochowski, L. L., Xu, H., and White, R. H. (2009) An iron(II) dependent formamide hydrolase catalyzes the second step in the archaeal biosynthetic pathway to riboflavin and 7,8-didemethyl-8-hydroxy-5-deazariboflavin, Biochemistry 48, 4181-4188.
  • Grochowski, L. L., Xu, H., and White, R. H. (2008) Identification and characterization of the 2-phospho-L-lactate guanylyltransferase involved in coenzyme F420 biosynthesis, Biochemistry 47, 3033-3037.
Robert White