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Protein Sci. 2015 May;24(5):895-908. doi: 10.1002/pro.2642. Epub 2015 Mar 2.

Structure-based design of combinatorial mutagenesis libraries.

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Department of Computer Science, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.


The development of protein variants with improved properties (thermostability, binding affinity, catalytic activity, etc.) has greatly benefited from the application of high-throughput screens evaluating large, diverse combinatorial libraries. At the same time, since only a very limited portion of sequence space can be experimentally constructed and tested, an attractive possibility is to use computational protein design to focus libraries on a productive portion of the space. We present a general-purpose method, called "Structure-based Optimization of Combinatorial Mutagenesis" (SOCoM), which can optimize arbitrarily large combinatorial mutagenesis libraries directly based on structural energies of their constituents. SOCoM chooses both positions and substitutions, employing a combinatorial optimization framework based on library-averaged energy potentials in order to avoid explicitly modeling every variant in every possible library. In case study applications to green fluorescent protein, β-lactamase, and lipase A, SOCoM optimizes relatively small, focused libraries whose variants achieve energies comparable to or better than previous library design efforts, as well as larger libraries (previously not designable by structure-based methods) whose variants cover greater diversity while still maintaining substantially better energies than would be achieved by representative random library approaches. By allowing the creation of large-scale combinatorial libraries based on structural calculations, SOCoM promises to increase the scope of applicability of computational protein design and improve the hit rate of discovering beneficial variants. While designs presented here focus on variant stability (predicted by total energy), SOCoM can readily incorporate other structure-based assessments, such as the energy gap between alternative conformational or bound states.


cluster expansion; combinatorial library; high-throughput screening; protein design space; structure-based protein design

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