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Proteins. 2015 Aug;83(8):1385-406. doi: 10.1002/prot.24779. Epub 2015 Jun 6.

AbDesign: An algorithm for combinatorial backbone design guided by natural conformations and sequences.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 76100, Israel.
Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, California, 94043.


Computational design of protein function has made substantial progress, generating new enzymes, binders, inhibitors, and nanomaterials not previously seen in nature. However, the ability to design new protein backbones for function--essential to exert control over all polypeptide degrees of freedom--remains a critical challenge. Most previous attempts to design new backbones computed the mainchain from scratch. Here, instead, we describe a combinatorial backbone and sequence optimization algorithm called AbDesign, which leverages the large number of sequences and experimentally determined molecular structures of antibodies to construct new antibody models, dock them against target surfaces and optimize their sequence and backbone conformation for high stability and binding affinity. We used the algorithm to produce antibody designs that target the same molecular surfaces as nine natural, high-affinity antibodies; in five cases interface sequence identity is above 30%, and in four of those the backbone conformation at the core of the antibody binding surface is within 1 Å root-mean square deviation from the natural antibodies. Designs recapitulate polar interaction networks observed in natural complexes, and amino acid sidechain rigidity at the designed binding surface, which is likely important for affinity and specificity, is high compared to previous design studies. In designed anti-lysozyme antibodies, complementarity-determining regions (CDRs) at the periphery of the interface, such as L1 and H2, show greater backbone conformation diversity than the CDRs at the core of the interface, and increase the binding surface area compared to the natural antibody, potentially enhancing affinity and specificity.


CDRs; Rosetta; V(D)J recombination; canonical conformations; computational protein design; conformation-sequence optimization; fuzzy-logic design; modular segments

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