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Protein Eng Des Sel. 2013 Oct;26(10):705-11. doi: 10.1093/protein/gzt046. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

Construction of proteins with molecular recognition capabilities using α3β3 de novo protein scaffolds.

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Department of Bioengineering, Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 4259-B40 Nagatsuta-cho, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8501, Japan.


The molecular recognition ability of proteins is essential in biological systems, and therefore a considerable amount of effort has been devoted to constructing desired target-binding proteins using a variety of naturally occurring proteins as scaffolds. However, since generating a binding site in a native protein can often affect its structural properties, highly stable de novo protein scaffolds may be more amenable than the native proteins. We previously reported the generation of de novo proteins comprising three α-helices and three β-strands (α3β3) from a genetic library coding simplified amino acid sets. Two α3β3 de novo proteins, vTAJ13 and vTAJ36, fold into a native-like stable and molten globule-like structures, respectively, even though the proteins have similar amino acid compositions. Here, we attempted to create binding sites for the vTAJ13 and vTAJ36 proteins to prove the utility of de novo designed artificial proteins as a molecular recognition tool. Randomization of six amino acids at two linker sites of vTAJ13 and vTAJ36 followed by biopanning generated binding proteins that recognize the target molecules, fluorescein and green fluorescent protein, with affinities of 10(-7)-10(-8) M. Of note, the selected proteins from the vTAJ13-based library tended to recognize the target molecules with high specificity, probably due to the native-like stable structure of vTAJ13. Our studies provide an example of the potential of de novo protein scaffolds, which are composed of a simplified amino acid set, to recognize a variety of target compounds.


Combinatorial library; de novo protein; molecular recognition; phage display

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