Family-Based Protein Design
Prof. Chris Bailey-Kellogg
Family reunions can be very interesting. Proteins have relatives (across organisms and even within the same organism) that are similar, but also different in significant ways. For example, shown in the figure are one serine protease (blue; function is to chop up other proteins) and one of its inhibitors (red; function is to block the chopping mechanism, as shown). Different proteases recognize different places to chop, while different inhibitors have different degrees of inhibition for different proteases. We are developing techniques to learn from nature's exploration of these families -- generalizing common features of observed family members and characterizing their differences, and relating these to experimental observations about their functions. This enables us to optimize our own new variants with desired functions (e.g., particularly strong and protease-specific inhibitors).