ResearchPad - macromolecular-engineering https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[When two are better than one: Modeling the mechanisms of antibody mixtures]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14641 With the rise of new antibody combinations in therapeutic regimens, it is important to understand how antibodies work together as well as individually. Here, we investigate the specific case of monoclonal antibodies targeting a cancer-causing receptor or the influenza virus and develop a statistical mechanical framework that predicts the effectiveness of a mixture of antibodies. The power of this model lies in its ability to make a large number of predictions based on a limited amount of data. For example, once 10 antibodies have been individually characterized and their epitopes have been mapped, our model can predict how any of the 210 = 1024 combinations will behave. This predictive power can aid therapeutic efforts by assessing which combinations of antibodies will elicit the most effective response.

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<![CDATA[Controlling the dynamics of the Nek2 leucine zipper by engineering of “kinetic” disulphide bonds]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df370d5eed0c4845812dc

Nek2 is a dimeric serine/ threonine protein kinase that belongs to the family of NIMA-related kinases (Neks). Its N-terminal catalytic domain and its C-terminal regulatory region are bridged by a leucine zipper, which plays an important role in the activation of Nek2’s catalytic activity. Unusual conformational dynamics on the intermediary/slow timescale has thwarted all attempts so far to determine the structure of the Nek2 leucine zipper by means of X-ray crystallography and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Disulfide engineering, the strategic placement of non-native disulfide bonds into flexible regions flanking the coiled coil, was used to modulate the conformational exchange dynamics of this important dimerization domain. The resulting reduction in exchange rate leads to substantial improvements of important features in NMR spectra, such as line width, coherence transfer leakage and relaxation. These effects were comprehensively analyzed for the wild type protein, two single disulfide bond-bearing mutants and another double disulfide bonds-carrying mutant. Furthermore, exchange kinetics were measured across a wide temperature range, allowing for a detailed analysis of activation energy (ΔG) and maximal rate constant (k’ex). For one mutant carrying a disulfide bond at its C-terminus, a full backbone NMR assignment could be obtained for both conformers, demonstrating the benefits of the disulfide engineering. Our study demonstrates the first successful application of ‘kinetic’ disulfide bonds for the purpose of controlling the adverse effects of protein dynamics. Firstly, this provides a promising, robust platform for the full structural and functional investigation of the Nek2 leucine zipper in the future. Secondly, this work broadens the toolbox of protein engineering by disulfide bonds through the addition of a kinetic option in addition to the well-established thermodynamic uses of disulfide bonds.

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<![CDATA[Identification of molecular determinants that govern distinct STIM2 activation dynamics]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bf86f32d5eed0c48405a4b8

The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca2+ sensors stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) and STIM2, which connect ER Ca2+ depletion with extracellular Ca2+ influx, are crucial for the maintenance of Ca2+ homeostasis in mammalian cells. Despite the recent progress in unraveling the role of STIM2 in Ca2+ signaling, the mechanistic underpinnings of its activation remain underexplored. We use an engineering approach to direct ER-resident STIMs to the plasma membrane (PM) while maintaining their correct membrane topology, as well as Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensors that enabled in cellulo real-time monitoring of STIM activities. This allowed us to determine the calcium affinities of STIM1 and STIM2 both in cellulo and in situ, explaining the current discrepancies in the literature. We also identified the key structural determinants, especially the corresponding G residue in STIM1, which define the distinct activation dynamics of STIM2. The chimeric E470G mutation could switch STIM2 from a slow and weak Orai channel activator into a fast and potent one like STIM1 and vice versa. The systemic dissection of STIM2 activation by protein engineering sets the stage for the elucidation of the regulation and function of STIM2-mediated signaling in mammals.

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<![CDATA[Rosetta FunFolDes – A general framework for the computational design of functional proteins]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bfc6223d5eed0c484ec6c7f

The robust computational design of functional proteins has the potential to deeply impact translational research and broaden our understanding of the determinants of protein function and stability. The low success rates of computational design protocols and the extensive in vitro optimization often required, highlight the challenge of designing proteins that perform essential biochemical functions, such as binding or catalysis. One of the most simplistic approaches for the design of function is to adopt functional motifs in naturally occurring proteins and transplant them to computationally designed proteins. The structural complexity of the functional motif largely determines how readily one can find host protein structures that are “designable”, meaning that are likely to present the functional motif in the desired conformation. One promising route to enhance the “designability” of protein structures is to allow backbone flexibility. Here, we present a computational approach that couples conformational folding with sequence design to embed functional motifs into heterologous proteins—Rosetta Functional Folding and Design (FunFolDes). We performed extensive computational benchmarks, where we observed that the enforcement of functional requirements resulted in designs distant from the global energetic minimum of the protein. An observation consistent with several experimental studies that have revealed function-stability tradeoffs. To test the design capabilities of FunFolDes we transplanted two viral epitopes into distant structural templates including one de novo “functionless” fold, which represent two typical challenges where the designability problem arises. The designed proteins were experimentally characterized showing high binding affinities to monoclonal antibodies, making them valuable candidates for vaccine design endeavors. Overall, we present an accessible strategy to repurpose old protein folds for new functions. This may lead to important improvements on the computational design of proteins, with structurally complex functional sites, that can perform elaborate biochemical functions related to binding and catalysis.

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<![CDATA[Synonymous Rare Arginine Codons and tRNA Abundance Affect Protein Production and Quality of TEV Protease Variant]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db0cab0ee8fa60bca682

It has been identified that a TEV protease (TEVp) variant, TEVp5M, displays improved solubility. Here, we constructed fifteen TEVp5M variants with one or more of six rare arginine codons in the coding sequence replaced with abundant E. coli arginine codons. These codon variants expressed in either E. coli BL21 (DE3) or Rossetta (DE3) showed different solubility and activity. Supply of rare tRNAs increased the tendency of certain codon variants to form insoluble aggregates at early induction stage, as determined by the fused S-tag. About 32% increase in soluble protein production of M5 variant with four synonymously mutated arginine codons was identified in Rossetta (DE3) cells using GFP fusion reporter, comparable to that of TEVp5M. After purification, two other codon variants from both E. coli strains exhibited less activity than TEVp5M on cleaving the native or modified recognition sequence incorporated between GST and E. coli diaminopropionate ammonialyase by enzyme-coupled assay, whereas purified M5 variant showed activity similar to the TEVp5M. Supply of rare tRNAs caused the decrease of activity of TEVp5M and M5 by about 21%. Our results revealed that engineering of highly soluble TEVp variants can be achieved by the combined mutations of amino acid residues and optimization of specific rare codons, whereas simple augment of rare tRNAs abundance resulted in partial loss of activity.

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<![CDATA[Specific Internalisation of Gold Nanoparticles into Engineered Porous Protein Cages via Affinity Binding]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d9ab0ee8fa60b671b2

Porous protein cages are supramolecular protein self-assemblies presenting pores that allow the access of surrounding molecules and ions into their core in order to store and transport them in biological environments. Protein cages’ pores are attractive channels for the internalisation of inorganic nanoparticles and an alternative for the preparation of hybrid bioinspired nanoparticles. However, strategies based on nanoparticle transport through the pores are largely unexplored, due to the difficulty of tailoring nanoparticles that have diameters commensurate with the pores size and simultaneously displaying specific affinity to the cages’ core and low non-specific binding to the cages’ outer surface. We evaluated the specific internalisation of single small gold nanoparticles, 3.9 nm in diameter, into porous protein cages via affinity binding. The E2 protein cage derived from the Geobacillus stearothermophilus presents 12 pores, 6 nm in diameter, and an empty core of 13 nm in diameter. We engineered the E2 protein by site-directed mutagenesis with oligohistidine sequences exposing them into the cage’s core. Dynamic light scattering and electron microscopy analysis show that the structures of E2 protein cages mutated with bis- or penta-histidine sequences are well conserved. The surface of the gold nanoparticles was passivated with a self-assembled monolayer made of a mixture of short peptidols and thiolated alkane ethylene glycol ligands. Such monolayers are found to provide thin coatings preventing non-specific binding to proteins. Further functionalisation of the peptide coated gold nanoparticles with Ni2+ nitrilotriacetic moieties enabled the specific binding to oligohistidine tagged cages. The internalisation via affinity binding was evaluated by electron microscopy analysis. From the various mutations tested, only the penta-histidine mutated E2 protein cage showed repeatable and stable internalisation. The present work overcomes the limitations of currently available approaches and provides a new route to design tailored and well-controlled hybrid nanoparticles.

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<![CDATA[Reproducibility of Fluorescent Expression from Engineered Biological Constructs in E. coli]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da64ab0ee8fa60b918ba

We present results of the first large-scale interlaboratory study carried out in synthetic biology, as part of the 2014 and 2015 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competitions. Participants at 88 institutions around the world measured fluorescence from three engineered constitutive constructs in E. coli. Few participants were able to measure absolute fluorescence, so data was analyzed in terms of ratios. Precision was strongly related to fluorescent strength, ranging from 1.54-fold standard deviation for the ratio between strong promoters to 5.75-fold for the ratio between the strongest and weakest promoter, and while host strain did not affect expression ratios, choice of instrument did. This result shows that high quantitative precision and reproducibility of results is possible, while at the same time indicating areas needing improved laboratory practices.

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<![CDATA[A critical analysis of computational protein design with sparse residue interaction graphs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db54ab0ee8fa60bdd0ac

Protein design algorithms enumerate a combinatorial number of candidate structures to compute the Global Minimum Energy Conformation (GMEC). To efficiently find the GMEC, protein design algorithms must methodically reduce the conformational search space. By applying distance and energy cutoffs, the protein system to be designed can thus be represented using a sparse residue interaction graph, where the number of interacting residue pairs is less than all pairs of mutable residues, and the corresponding GMEC is called the sparse GMEC. However, ignoring some pairwise residue interactions can lead to a change in the energy, conformation, or sequence of the sparse GMEC vs. the original or the full GMEC. Despite the widespread use of sparse residue interaction graphs in protein design, the above mentioned effects of their use have not been previously analyzed. To analyze the costs and benefits of designing with sparse residue interaction graphs, we computed the GMECs for 136 different protein design problems both with and without distance and energy cutoffs, and compared their energies, conformations, and sequences. Our analysis shows that the differences between the GMECs depend critically on whether or not the design includes core, boundary, or surface residues. Moreover, neglecting long-range interactions can alter local interactions and introduce large sequence differences, both of which can result in significant structural and functional changes. Designs on proteins with experimentally measured thermostability show it is beneficial to compute both the full and the sparse GMEC accurately and efficiently. To this end, we show that a provable, ensemble-based algorithm can efficiently compute both GMECs by enumerating a small number of conformations, usually fewer than 1000. This provides a novel way to combine sparse residue interaction graphs with provable, ensemble-based algorithms to reap the benefits of sparse residue interaction graphs while avoiding their potential inaccuracies.

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<![CDATA[Colorful Protein-Based Fluorescent Probes for Collagen Imaging]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da02ab0ee8fa60b74937

Real-time visualization of collagen is important in studies on tissue formation and remodeling in the research fields of developmental biology and tissue engineering. Our group has previously reported on a fluorescent probe for the specific imaging of collagen in live tissue in situ, consisting of the native collagen binding protein CNA35 labeled with fluorescent dye Oregon Green 488 (CNA35-OG488). The CNA35-OG488 probe has become widely used for collagen imaging. To allow for the use of CNA35-based probes in a broader range of applications, we here present a toolbox of six genetically-encoded collagen probes which are fusions of CNA35 to fluorescent proteins that span the visible spectrum: mTurquoise2, EGFP, mAmetrine, LSSmOrange, tdTomato and mCherry. While CNA35-OG488 requires a chemical conjugation step for labeling with the fluorescent dye, these protein-based probes can be easily produced in high yields by expression in E. coli and purified in one step using Ni2+-affinity chromatography. The probes all bind specifically to collagen, both in vitro and in porcine pericardial tissue. Some first applications of the probes are shown in multicolor imaging of engineered tissue and two-photon imaging of collagen in human skin. The fully-genetic encoding of the new probes makes them easily accessible to all scientists interested in collagen formation and remodeling.

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<![CDATA[Fully Human Antagonistic Antibodies against CCR4 Potently Inhibit Cell Signaling and Chemotaxis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dabdab0ee8fa60baf7b1

Background

CC chemokine receptor 4 (CCR4) represents a potentially important target for cancer immunotherapy due to its expression on tumor infiltrating immune cells including regulatory T cells (Tregs) and on tumor cells in several cancer types and its role in metastasis.

Methodology

Using phage display, human antibody library, affinity maturation and a cell-based antibody selection strategy, the antibody variants against human CCR4 were generated. These antibodies effectively competed with ligand binding, were able to block ligand-induced signaling and cell migration, and demonstrated efficient killing of CCR4-positive tumor cells via ADCC and phagocytosis. In a mouse model of human T-cell lymphoma, significant survival benefit was demonstrated for animals treated with the newly selected anti-CCR4 antibodies.

Significance

For the first time, successful generation of anti- G-protein coupled chemokine receptor (GPCR) antibodies using human non-immune library and phage display on GPCR-expressing cells was demonstrated. The generated anti-CCR4 antibodies possess a dual mode of action (inhibition of ligand-induced signaling and antibody-directed tumor cell killing). The data demonstrate that the anti-tumor activity in vivo is mediated, at least in part, through Fc-receptor dependent effector mechanisms, such as ADCC and phagocytosis. Anti-CC chemokine receptor 4 antibodies inhibiting receptor signaling have potential as immunomodulatory antibodies for cancer.

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<![CDATA[Three Recombinant Engineered Antibodies against Recombinant Tags with High Affinity and Specificity]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da33ab0ee8fa60b851d0

We describe three recombinant engineered antibodies against three recombinant epitope tags, constructed with divalent binding arms to recognize divalent epitopes and so achieve high affinity and specificity. In two versions, an epitope is inserted in tandem into a protein of interest, and a homodimeric antibody is constructed by fusing a high-affinity epitope-binding domain to a human or mouse Fc domain. In a third, a heterodimeric antibody is constructed by fusing two different epitope-binding domains which target two different binding sites in GFP, to polarized Fc fragments. These antibody/epitope pairs have affinities in the low picomolar range and are useful tools for many antibody-based applications.

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<![CDATA[Clearance of Human IgG1-Sensitised Red Blood Cells In Vivo in Humans Relates to the In Vitro Properties of Antibodies from Alternative Cell Lines]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db0eab0ee8fa60bcb4dc

We previously produced a recombinant version of the human anti-RhD antibody Fog-1 in the rat myeloma cell line, YB2/0. When human, autologous RhD-positive red blood cells (RBC) were sensitised with this IgG1 antibody and re-injected, they were cleared much more rapidly from the circulation than had been seen earlier with the original human-mouse heterohybridoma-produced Fog-1. Since the IgG have the same amino acid sequence, this disparity is likely to be due to alternative glycosylation that results from the rat and mouse cell lines. By comparing the in vitro properties of YB2/0-produced Fog-1 IgG1 and the same antibody produced in the mouse myeloma cell line NS0, we now have a unique opportunity to pinpoint the cause of the difference in ability to clear RBC in vivo. Using transfected cell lines that express single human FcγR, we showed that IgG1 made in YB2/0 and NS0 cell lines bound equally well to receptors of the FcγRI and FcγRII classes but that the YB2/0 antibody was superior in FcγRIII binding. When measuring complexed IgG binding, the difference was 45-fold for FcγRIIIa 158F, 20-fold for FcγRIIIa 158V and approximately 40-fold for FcγRIIIb. The dissimilarity was greater at 100-fold in monomeric IgG binding assays with FcγRIIIa. When used to sensitise RBC, the YB2/0 IgG1 generated 100-fold greater human NK cell antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity and had a 103-fold advantage over the NS0 antibody in activating NK cells, as detected by CD54 levels. In assays of monocyte activation and macrophage adherence/phagocytosis, where FcγRI plays major roles, RBC sensitised with the two antibodies produced much more similar results. Thus, the alternative glycosylation profiles of the Fog-1 antibodies affect only FcγRIII binding and FcγRIII-mediated functions. Relating this to the in vivo studies confirms the importance of FcγRIII in RBC clearance.

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<![CDATA[Immuno-epidemiological Modeling of HIV-1 Predicts High Heritability of the Set-Point Virus Load, while Selection for CTL Escape Dominates Virulence Evolution]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d9ab0ee8fa60b6701e

It has been suggested that HIV-1 has evolved its set-point virus load to be optimized for transmission. Previous epidemiological models and studies into the heritability of set-point virus load confirm that this mode of adaptation within the human population is feasible. However, during the many cycles of replication between infection of a host and transmission to the next host, HIV-1 is under selection for escape from immune responses, and not transmission. Here we investigate with computational and mathematical models how these two levels of selection, within-host and between-host, are intertwined. We find that when the rate of immune escape is comparable to what has been observed in patients, immune selection within hosts is dominant over selection for transmission. Surprisingly, we do find high values for set-point virus load heritability, and argue that high heritability estimates can be caused by the ‘footprints’ left by differing hosts' immune systems on the virus.

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<![CDATA[In-Cell Intrabody Selection from a Diverse Human Library Identifies C12orf4 Protein as a New Player in Rodent Mast Cell Degranulation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9edab0ee8fa60b6d330

The high specificity of antibodies for their antigen allows a fine discrimination of target conformations and post-translational modifications, making antibodies the first choice tool to interrogate the proteome. We describe here an approach based on a large-scale intracellular expression and selection of antibody fragments in eukaryotic cells, so-called intrabodies, and the subsequent identification of their natural target within living cell. Starting from a phenotypic trait, this integrated system allows the identification of new therapeutic targets together with their companion inhibitory intrabody. We applied this system in a model of allergy and inflammation. We first cloned a large and highly diverse intrabody library both in a plasmid and a retroviral eukaryotic expression vector. After transfection in the RBL-2H3 rat basophilic leukemia cell line, we performed seven rounds of selection to isolate cells displaying a defect in FcεRI-induced degranulation. We used high throughput sequencing to identify intrabody sequences enriched during the course of selection. Only one intrabody was common to both plasmid and retroviral selections, and was used to capture and identify its target from cell extracts. Mass spectrometry analysis identified protein RGD1311164 (C12orf4), with no previously described function. Our data demonstrate that RGD1311164 is a cytoplasmic protein implicated in the early signaling events following FcεRI-induced cell activation. This work illustrates the strength of the intrabody-based in-cell selection, which allowed the identification of a new player in mast cell activation together with its specific inhibitor intrabody.

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<![CDATA[Lysine Decarboxylase with an Enhanced Affinity for Pyridoxal 5-Phosphate by Disulfide Bond-Mediated Spatial Reconstitution]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da26ab0ee8fa60b8094d

Lysine decarboxylase (LDC) catalyzes the decarboxylation of l-lysine to produce cadaverine, an important industrial platform chemical for bio-based polyamides. However, due to high flexibility at the pyridoxal 5-phosphate (PLP) binding site, use of the enzyme for cadaverine production requires continuous supplement of large amounts of PLP. In order to develop an LDC enzyme from Selenomonas ruminantium (SrLDC) with an enhanced affinity for PLP, we introduced an internal disulfide bond between Ala225 and Thr302 residues with a desire to retain the PLP binding site in a closed conformation. The SrLDCA225C/T302C mutant showed a yellow color and the characteristic UV/Vis absorption peaks for enzymes with bound PLP, and exhibited three-fold enhanced PLP affinity compared with the wild-type SrLDC. The mutant also exhibited a dramatically enhanced LDC activity and cadaverine conversion particularly under no or low PLP concentrations. Moreover, introduction of the disulfide bond rendered SrLDC more resistant to high pH and temperature. The formation of the introduced disulfide bond and the maintenance of the PLP binding site in the closed conformation were confirmed by determination of the crystal structure of the mutant. This study shows that disulfide bond-mediated spatial reconstitution can be a platform technology for development of enzymes with enhanced PLP affinity.

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<![CDATA[Combining Rational and Random Strategies in β-Glucosidase Zm-p60.1 Protein Library Construction]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da12ab0ee8fa60b79f9d

Saturation mutagenesis is a cornerstone technique in protein engineering because of its utility (in conjunction with appropriate analytical techniques) for assessing effects of varying residues at selected positions on proteins’ structures and functions. Site-directed mutagenesis with degenerate primers is the simplest and most rapid saturation mutagenesis technique. Thus, it is highly appropriate for assessing whether or not variation at certain sites is permissible, but not necessarily the most time- and cost-effective technique for detailed assessment of variations’ effects. Thus, in the presented study we applied the technique to randomize position W373 in β-glucosidase Zm-p60.1, which is highly conserved among β-glucosidases. Unexpectedly, β-glucosidase activity screening of the generated variants showed that most variants were active, although they generally had significantly lower activity than the wild type enzyme. Further characterization of the library led us to conclude that a carefully selected combination of randomized codon-based saturation mutagenesis and site-directed mutagenesis may be most efficient, particularly when constructing and investigating randomized libraries with high fractions of positive hits.

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<![CDATA[Efficient Production of sTNFRII-gAD Fusion Protein in Large Quantity by Use of the Modified CHO-S Cell Expression System]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da43ab0ee8fa60b8a9c4

TNFα is one of the initial and important mediators to activate downstream signaling pathways by binding to trimerized TNFα receptors (TNFR), and thus is an ideal drug target for cancer therapy. Taking advantage of intrinsic homotimerization of the globular domain of adiponectin (gAD), we have developed a novel TNFα antagonist, the trimerized fusion protein named sTNFRII-gAD. However, our previously-used CHO expression system yielded less than 10 mg/L of sTNFRII-gAD. To produce large quantities of sTNFRII-gAD efficiently, we used a modified CHO-S cell expression system, which is based on a pMH3 vector with non-coding GC-rich DNA fragments for high-level gene expression. We obtained stable clones that produced 75 mg/L of sTNFRII-gAD in the 96-well plate, adapted the clones to 40 ml suspension serum-free batch culture, then optimized the culturing conditions to scale up the fed-batch culture in a 3 L shake-flask and finally in a 5 L AP30 bioreactor. We achieved a final yield of 52 mg/L of sTNFRII-gAD. The trimerized sTNFRII-gAD exhibited the higher affinity to TNFα with a dissociation constant (Kd) of 5.63 nM than the dimerized sTNFRII-Fc with a Kd of 13.4 nM, and further displayed the higher TNFα-neutralizing activity than sTNFRII-Fc (p<0.05) in a L929 cytotoxicity assay. Therefore, the strategy employed in this study may provide an efficient avenue for large-scale production of other recombinant proteins by use of the modified CHO-S cell expression system.

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<![CDATA[Directed Chemical Evolution with an Outsized Genetic Code]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da45ab0ee8fa60b8b7de

The first demonstration that macromolecules could be evolved in a test tube was reported twenty-five years ago. That breakthrough meant that billions of years of chance discovery and refinement could be compressed into a few weeks, and provided a powerful tool that now dominates all aspects of protein engineering. A challenge has been to extend this scientific advance into synthetic chemical space: to enable the directed evolution of abiotic molecules. The problem has been tackled in many ways. These include expanding the natural genetic code to include unnatural amino acids, engineering polyketide and polypeptide synthases to produce novel products, and tagging combinatorial chemistry libraries with DNA. Importantly, there is still no small-molecule analog of directed protein evolution, i.e. a substantiated approach for optimizing complex (≥ 10^9 diversity) populations of synthetic small molecules over successive generations. We present a key advance towards this goal: a tool for genetically-programmed synthesis of small-molecule libraries from large chemical alphabets. The approach accommodates alphabets that are one to two orders of magnitude larger than any in Nature, and facilitates evolution within the chemical spaces they create. This is critical for small molecules, which are built up from numerous and highly varied chemical fragments. We report a proof-of-concept chemical evolution experiment utilizing an outsized genetic code, and demonstrate that fitness traits can be passed from an initial small-molecule population through to the great-grandchildren of that population. The results establish the practical feasibility of engineering synthetic small molecules through accelerated evolution.

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<![CDATA[Functional and Evolutionary Significance of Human MicroRNA Seed Region Mutations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e6ab0ee8fa60b6b45f

MicroRNAs have emerged in recent years as important regulators of cell function in both normal and diseased cells. MiRNAs coordinately regulate large suites of target genes by mRNA degradation and/or translational inhibition. The mRNA target specificities of miRNAs in animals are primarily encoded within a 7 nt “seed region” mapping to positions 2–8 at the molecule's 5′ end. We here combine computational analyses with experimental studies to explore the functional significance of sequence variation within the seed region of human miRNAs. The results indicate that a substitution of even a single nucleotide within the seed region changes the spectrum of mRNA targets by >50%. The high functional cost of even single nucleotide changes within seed regions is consistent with their high sequence conservation among miRNA families both within and between species and suggests processes that may underlie the evolution of miRNA regulatory control.

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<![CDATA[Development and Evaluation of Single Domain Antibodies for Vaccinia and the L1 Antigen]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dac5ab0ee8fa60bb2160

There is ongoing interest to develop high affinity, thermal stable recognition elements to replace conventional antibodies in biothreat detection assays. As part of this effort, single domain antibodies that target vaccinia virus were developed. Two llamas were immunized with killed viral particles followed by boosts with the recombinant membrane protein, L1, to stimulate the immune response for envelope and membrane proteins of the virus. The variable domains of the induced heavy chain antibodies were selected from M13 phage display libraries developed from isolated RNA. Selection via biopanning on the L1 antigen produced single domain antibodies that were specific and had affinities ranging from 4×10−9 M to 7.0×10−10 M, as determined by surface plasmon resonance. Several showed good ability to refold after heat denaturation. These L1-binding single domain antibodies, however, failed to recognize the killed vaccinia antigen. Useful vaccinia binding single domain antibodies were isolated by a second selection using the killed virus as the target. The virus binding single domain antibodies were incorporated in sandwich assays as both capture and tracer using the MAGPIX system yielding limits of detection down to 4×105 pfu/ml, a four-fold improvement over the limit obtained using conventional antibodies. This work demonstrates the development of anti-vaccinia single domain antibodies and their incorporation into sandwich assays for viral detection. It also highlights the properties of high affinity and thermal stability that are hallmarks of single domain antibodies.

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