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Rational Design and Functionalization of an Artificial Scaffold Protein for Synthetic Biochemistry

Ph D Defense
2023-12-12 10:30
KU Leuven, Arenbergkasteel, Aula Arenbergkasteel, 01.07 - Kasteelpark Arenberg 1
3001 Leuven, België

Promovendus/a: Staf Wouters

Promotor(en): Prof. dr. Arnout Voet, Prof. dr. Johan Robben

Proteins are like tiny building blocks in our bodies, made from even smaller parts called amino acids. We find these proteins in the food we eat. When we digest them, they are taken apart so we can reuse the amino acids to build our own proteins. Proteins perform important tasks that keep us alive, such as transporting oxygen, processing nutrients, and fighting off diseases. Scientists also discovered ways to use proteins for other things, such as making medicines (pharmaceuticals), cleaning stains (laundry detergents), and keeping our skin moisturized (some skin care products). In our lab, we use computers to create brand-new proteins that do not exist in nature. These artificial proteins can help detect or treat new diseases. However, designing proteins is extremely difficult, and it is nearly impossible to directly make a protein which works as intended. That is why we prefer starting with simple building blocks, that can later be tweaked and changed to have different functions for different applications. We also like to make these building blocks symmetric. The symmetry helps to make them robust, so they can easily be produced and have a good shelf-life, but also helps if we need to build small layers (for sensors) or nanoparticles (for some medicines). My thesis describes two ways to design robust symmetric protein building blocks, and also shows that they can indeed make layers and nanoparticles. Future research will make many variants of these proteins, which can will be used to combat diseases in humans and animals, or to protect crops and food from unwanted bacteria and fungi.

All Dates

  • 2023-12-12 10:30

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