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Protein engineering: opportunities and challenges

Abstract

The extraordinary properties of natural proteins demonstrate that life-like protein engineering is both achievable and valuable. Rapid progress and impressive results have been made towards this goal using rational design and random techniques or a combination of both. However, we still do not have a general theory on how to specify a structure that is suited to a target function nor can we specify a sequence that folds to a target structure. There is also overreliance on the Darwinian blind search to obtain practical results. In the long run, random methods cannot replace insight in constructing life-like proteins. For the near future, however, in enzyme development, we need to rely on a combination of both.

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Acknowledgment

The authors thank Douglas Axe for his helpful criticism and for revising the text.

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Correspondence to Matti Leisola.

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Leisola, M., Turunen, O. Protein engineering: opportunities and challenges. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 75, 1225–1232 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-007-0964-2

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Keywords

  • Protein engineering
  • Directed evolution
  • Enzymes