Cottrell College Science Awards - 2015
Profiling the In Vitro Reactivity of Sortase Homologs for Use in Protein Modification
There are probably more than 100,000 different proteins in the human body. They do most of the work in living cells -- providing antibodies and enzymes, acting as messengers, lending structure and support and transporting food and waste.
Understandably, researchers are always looking for new ways to use these molecular marvels.
“Proteins possessing attributes that do not exist in nature hold great potential for a new generation of therapeutics, diagnostics and materials,” observes John M. Antos, assistant professor of chemistry, Western Washington University. He has recently received a Cottrell College Science Award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) to develop new strategies to modify proteins.
Antos will be working with homologs – closely related versions – of a group of enzymes known as sortases that are produced by a wide range of bacteria. The few sortases that have been studied so far have demonstrated surgically precise abilities to slice into – cleave, as scientists say – very specific segments of certain protein molecules.
Specifically, Antos and his colleagues will systematically evaluate sortase homologs, noting their varied abilities to cleave proteins. If his research is successful, it could enable the synthesis of precise new tools for use in therapeutic, industrial and research applications.