de novo computational enzyme design

Zanghellini, A. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2014: 29C:132-138

Abstract: Recent advances in systems and synthetic biology as well as metabolic engineering are poised to transform industrial biotechnology by allowing us to design cell factories for the sustainable production of valuable fuels and chemicals. To deliver on their promises, such cell factories, as much as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, will require appropriate catalysts, especially for classes of reactions that are not known to be catalyzed by enzymes in natural organisms. A recently developed methodology, de novo computational enzyme design can be used to create enzymes catalyzing novel reactions. Here we review the different classes of chemical reactions for which active protein catalysts have been designed as well as the results of detailed biochemical and structural characterization studies. We also discuss how combining de novo computational enzyme design with more traditional protein engineering techniques can alleviate the shortcomings of state-of-the-art computational design techniques and create novel enzymes with catalytic proficiencies on par with natural enzymes.