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In silico protein design for the enhancement of protein stability and function

Time: Fri 2023-10-06 10.00

Location: Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm

Language: English

Subject area: Chemistry

Doctoral student: David A. Hueting , Ytbehandlingsteknik, Science for Life Laboratory, SciLifeLab

Opponent: Professor Zbynek Prokop, Masaryk University, Tjeckien

Supervisor: Universitetslektor Per-Olof Syrén, Science for Life Laboratory, SciLifeLab, Ytbehandlingsteknik, Wallenberg Wood Science Center, Proteinvetenskap; Professor Hjalmar Brismar, Science for Life Laboratory, SciLifeLab, Biofysik

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QC 20230912


Enzymes are natures catalysts that increase the rate of a chemical reaction. The increased rate of a reaction is required to be able to sustain life. Despite the huge impact of enzymes, they are not perfect catalysts. Enzyme and protein engineering is the discipline in which proteins are characterized and engineered to have improved inherent properties. Interesting properties of an enzyme to improve include stability and activity. The aim of this work is to understand how proteins and enzymes function and use a variety of different protein engineering techniques to enhance the properties of different proteins. In this work proteins and enzymes are engineered to increase our knowledge of the target proteins for downstream biomedical applications. A mix between rational and semi-rational engineering is applied in this work. In paper I and paper II, the method used is ancestral sequence reconstruction. A method that utilizes the evolutionary relationship between homologous sequences. In paper I the method was applied to a terpene cyclase, which cyclizes a precursor terpene into potential interesting drug leads. The result was a hyperstable enzyme variant. In paper II the technique was applied to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. The protein is responsible for the virus SARS-CoV-2 to enter human cells. The work yielded a stable spike protein that readily expresses and can be utilized as a vaccine lead. In paper III, the aim was to understand human oxidosqualene cyclase (hOSC). A terpene cyclase essential in cholesterol synthesis. The enzyme hOSC was rationally engineered to change the driving force of the reaction. Through targeted mutations the reaction changed from entropy driven to enthalpy driven. Finally, in paper IV, a rationally engineered PETase, which is capable of degrading PET polymers into monomers, was proven to be active in human serum and verifies the proof-of-concept of degrading plastic in human blood. To summarize, the results in this thesis show the applicability of different enzyme engineering techniques to stabilize or change the function of proteins and the potential of engineered proteins in medical applications.