Maria Martinez


Maria Martinez





Growing up, I went through a variety of different ideas of what I wanted to do with my life. I probably went through every field of science, from zoology, marine biology, astrology, biology, veterinary medicine and what I thought would be the decision, medicine. However, I realize soon after starting college that medicine wasn’t the path for me, but rather chemistry. It all started when I transferred to UCF from UF and was able to get a research position within one year of my start date at UCF. It was under Dr. Jonathan Caranto that I found my love for chemistry and was able to finally decide that I wanted to continue my education to get my Ph.D in chemistry/biochemistry and work in either the medical or pharmaceutical industry.

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jonathan Caranto: Assistant Professor

Undergraduate Major

-Chemistry- Biochemistry Track

Future Plans

- I intend to obtain my Ph.D. in Chemistry/Biochemistry and possibly work in the medical field, pharmaceuticals, or government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or corporations such as Chevron, Exxon Mobile and Raytheon. My goal is to make an impact in the world, whether it be improving drug interactions to help find a cure to many terminal illnesses, or discovering new sources for drugs, or even helping to create and maintain a healthy environment.


- Title: Mechanisms and Regulation of NO-dependent nitration by cytochrome (cyt) P450

- Principal Investigator: Maria Martinez and Christopher Martin

- Institution: University of Central Florida

- Abstract:

I currently work in a bioinorganic research laboratory at the University of Central Florida under Dr. Jonathan Caranto, where we are studying natural products produced by bacteria to create new antibiotics. Bacteria produces a large variety of these antimicrobial agents that also frequently

exhibit other bioactivities. Nitro groups () are an uncommon functionality among natural products but are often required for the bioactivity of the natural products in which they are found. Unfortunately, synthetic methods for creating these nitro groups have encountered many issues, such as low yield, poor selectivity and environmental pollution. One solution to these issues is to discover and utilize enzymes as biocatalysts for aromatic nitration, specifically TxtE cytochrome P450. TxtE is an enzyme that originates from cytochrome P450, which is a large family of enzymes that is primarily responsible for the metabolism of drugs in the human body. This enzyme is responsible for the direct regio-specific aromatic 4-nitration of L-tryptophan, by using and as co-substrates and electron donors of ferredoxin reductase and spinach ferredoxin.

The goal of my research is to determine the mechanism for the nitration of tryptophan by TxtE. To accomplish this, Streptomyces scabies TxtE pET 26b is recombinantly expressed in E. coli. Protein products will be collected and purified for use in further experiments. In one of the first experiments, I will test if TxtE can nitrate tryptophan in the presence of peroxynitrite (ONOO–). If 4-nitrotryptophan is observed via liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), work will be performed to isolate and characterize the intermediate responsible for the nitration. The completion of these experiments will provide insight into intermediates within the proposed enzymatic pathway.

Understanding enzyme mechanisms can help future protein engineering research to achieve tasks that are often inefficient through traditional synthetic methods. The ability to selectively nitrate a specific position on aromatic systems could prove useful for the productions of antibiotics and other common pharmaceuticals.


Medicine, Pharmacy, Inorganic Chemistry, Biochemistry

Maria Martinez