There are 20200 possible amino-acid sequences for a 200-residue protein, of which the natural evolutionary process has sampled only an infinitesimal subset. De novo protein design explores the full sequence space, guided by the physical principles that underlie protein folding. Computational methodology has advanced to the point that a wide range of structures can be designed from scratch with atomic-level accuracy. Almost all protein engineering so far has involved the modification of naturally occurring proteins; it should now be possible to design new functional proteins from the ground up to tackle current challenges in biomedicine and nanotechnology.
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We thank all members of the Baker laboratory and the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington, as well as the RosettaCommons community. We apologize to the researchers and protein designers whose work we were unable to acknowledge due to space and scope limitations. The authors are supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI-027779).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Huang, P., Boyken, S. & Baker, D. The coming of age of de novo protein design. Nature 537, 320–327 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature19946
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