Protein and Cellular Engineering and Statistical Mechanics
Protein engineers alter, design, and synthesize protein molecules for new and specialized uses, both to explore biology and to exploit new therapeutic opportunities.
Their work consist of monitoring vital biological processes via enzymes altered to affix affinity labels and proximity tags, or via recombinant antibodies that selectively bind other proteins, disclosing their locations, co-factors, and activities. Such engineering could eventually lead to the molecular-level diagnosis of disease, as well as more precise treatment targeting and rapid analysis of therapeutic efficacy. Department scientists develop and apply an array of protein engineering approaches that include:
Rational design: Precisely modifying protein structures to alter their functions as both enzymes and substrates.
Phage display: Using bacteriophages to generate billions of antibodies with different combinations of amino acids at antigen contact points, then testing for those that selectively bind a target protein DE novo design: Using computational algorithms to select amino acid sequences that will fold into protein structures to achieve specific chemicals and biological properties such as catalysis, binding, and transmembrane transport.