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Creators/Authors contains: "DeGrado, William F."

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  1. We describe the de novo design of an allosterically regulated protein, which comprises two tightly coupled domains. One domain is based on the DF (Due Ferri in Italian or two-iron in English) family of de novo proteins, which have a diiron cofactor that catalyzes a phenol oxidase reaction, while the second domain is based on PS1 (Porphyrin-binding Sequence), which binds a synthetic Zn-porphyrin (ZnP). The binding of ZnP to the original PS1 protein induces changes in structure and dynamics, which we expected to influence the catalytic rate of a fused DF domain when appropriately coupled. Both DF and PS1 aremore »four-helix bundles, but they have distinct bundle architectures. To achieve tight coupling between the domains, they were connected by four helical linkers using a computational method to discover the most designable connections capable of spanning the two architectures. The resulting protein, DFP1 (Due Ferri Porphyrin), bound the two cofactors in the expected manner. The crystal structure of fully reconstituted DFP1 was also in excellent agreement with the design, and it showed the ZnP cofactor bound over 12 Å from the dimetal center. Next, a substrate-binding cleft leading to the diiron center was introduced into DFP1. The resulting protein acts as an allosterically modulated phenol oxidase. Its Michaelis–Menten parameters were strongly affected by the binding of ZnP, resulting in a fourfold tighter K m and a 7-fold decrease in k cat . These studies establish the feasibility of designing allosterically regulated catalytic proteins, entirely from scratch.« less
  2. The de novo design of proteins that bind highly functionalized small molecules represents a great challenge. To enable computational design of binders, we developed a unit of protein structure—a van der Mer (vdM)—that maps the backbone of each amino acid to statistically preferred positions of interacting chemical groups. Using vdMs, we designed six de novo proteins to bind the drug apixaban; two bound with low and submicromolar affinity. X-ray crystallography and mutagenesis confirmed a structure with a precisely designed cavity that forms favorable interactions in the drug–protein complex. vdMs may enable design of functional proteins for applications in sensing, medicine,more »and catalysis.

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  3. The features that stabilize the structures of membrane proteins remain poorly understood. Polar interactions contribute modestly, and the hydrophobic effect contributes little to the energetics of apolar side-chain packing in membranes. Disruption of steric packing can destabilize the native folds of membrane proteins, but is packing alone sufficient to drive folding in lipids? If so, then membrane proteins stabilized by this feature should be readily designed and structurally characterized—yet this has not been achieved. Through simulation of the natural protein phospholamban and redesign of variants, we define a steric packing code underlying its assembly. Synthetic membrane proteins designed using thismore »code and stabilized entirely by apolar side chains conform to the intended fold. Although highly stable, the steric complementarity required for their folding is surprisingly stringent. Structural informatics shows that the designed packing motif recurs across the proteome, emphasizing a prominent role for precise apolar packing in membrane protein folding, stabilization, and evolution.« less