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Special Issue "A Commemorative Issue to Celebrate the Nobel Success of Prof. Frances H. Arnold: Directed Evolution"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Biochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Tuck Seng Wong
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Sheffield, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Interests: protein engineering (directed evolution); biocatalysis; industrial biotechnology; synthetic biology; biological carbon dioxide capture and utilization; enzymatic resource recovery; biophysics
Prof. Miguel Alcalde
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CSIC - Instituto de Catálisisy Petroleoquímica (ICP), Department of Biocatalysis, Madrid, Spain
Interests: directed evolution; oxidoreductases; synthetic biology; biocatalysis; protein engineering

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Prof. Frances H. Arnold, who pioneered the directed evolution of enzymes, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018. Enzymes engineered through directed evolution are used to manufacture everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals. This commemorative issue is dedicated to Prof. Frances H. Arnold to congratulate her on her scientific achievement and to celebrate the success of directed evolution. We are seeking contributions from the directed evolution and protein engineering community, in the forms of either original articles or review articles, covering the topics listed below:

  • Enzyme/protein engineering
  • Development of mutagenesis methods
  • Development of screening/selection methods
  • Laboratory adaptation of microorganisms
  • Combined directed evolution and rational design in enzyme engineering
  • Theory of protein evolution
  • Any other relevant topic (please discuss with editors)

Dr. Tuck Seng Wong
Prof. Miguel Alcalde
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Light-Regulation of Tryptophan Synthase by Combining Protein Design and Enzymology
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(20), 5106; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20205106 - 15 Oct 2019
Abstract
The spatiotemporal control of enzymes by light is of growing importance for industrial biocatalysis. Within this context, the photo-control of allosteric interactions in enzyme complexes, common to practically all metabolic pathways, is particularly relevant. A prominent example of a metabolic complex with a [...] Read more.
The spatiotemporal control of enzymes by light is of growing importance for industrial biocatalysis. Within this context, the photo-control of allosteric interactions in enzyme complexes, common to practically all metabolic pathways, is particularly relevant. A prominent example of a metabolic complex with a high application potential is tryptophan synthase from Salmonella typhimurium (TS), in which the constituting TrpA and TrpB subunits mutually stimulate each other via a sophisticated allosteric network. To control TS allostery with light, we incorporated the unnatural amino acid o-nitrobenzyl-O-tyrosine (ONBY) at seven strategic positions of TrpA and TrpB. Initial screening experiments showed that ONBY in position 58 of TrpA (aL58ONBY) inhibits TS activity most effectively. Upon UV irradiation, ONBY decages to tyrosine, largely restoring the capacity of TS. Biochemical characterization, extensive steady-state enzyme kinetics, and titration studies uncovered the impact of aL58ONBY on the activities of TrpA and TrpB and identified reaction conditions under which the influence of ONBY decaging on allostery reaches its full potential. By applying those optimal conditions, we succeeded to directly light-activate TS(aL58ONBY) by a factor of ~100. Our findings show that rational protein design with a photo-sensitive unnatural amino acid combined with extensive enzymology is a powerful tool to fine-tune allosteric light-activation of a central metabolic enzyme complex. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Directed Evolution of an Improved Rubisco; In Vitro Analyses to Decipher Fact from Fiction
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(20), 5019; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20205019 - 10 Oct 2019
Abstract
Inaccuracies in biochemically characterizing the amount and CO2-fixing properties of the photosynthetic enzyme Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) carboxylase/oxygenase continue to hamper an accurate evaluation of Rubisco mutants selected by directed evolution. Here, we outline an analytical pipeline for accurately quantifying Rubisco content and [...] Read more.
Inaccuracies in biochemically characterizing the amount and CO2-fixing properties of the photosynthetic enzyme Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) carboxylase/oxygenase continue to hamper an accurate evaluation of Rubisco mutants selected by directed evolution. Here, we outline an analytical pipeline for accurately quantifying Rubisco content and kinetics that averts the misinterpretation of directed evolution outcomes. Our study utilizes a new T7-promoter regulated Rubisco Dependent Escherichia coli (RDE3) screen to successfully select for the first Rhodobacter sphaeroides Rubisco (RsRubisco) mutant with improved CO2-fixing properties. The RsRubisco contains four amino acid substitutions in the large subunit (RbcL) and an improved carboxylation rate (kcatC, up 27%), carboxylation efficiency (kcatC/Km for CO2, increased 17%), unchanged CO2/O2 specificity and a 40% lower holoenzyme biogenesis capacity. Biochemical analysis of RsRubisco chimers coding one to three of the altered amino acids showed Lys-83-Gln and Arg-252-Leu substitutions (plant RbcL numbering) together, but not independently, impaired holoenzyme (L8S8) assembly. An N-terminal Val-11-Ile substitution did not affect RsRubisco catalysis or assembly, while a Tyr-345-Phe mutation alone conferred the improved kinetics without an effect on RsRubisco production. This study confirms the feasibility of improving Rubisco by directed evolution using an analytical pipeline that can identify false positives and reliably discriminate carboxylation enhancing amino acids changes from those influencing Rubisco biogenesis (solubility). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
PTO-QuickStep: A Fast and Efficient Method for Cloning Random Mutagenesis Libraries
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(16), 3908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20163908 - 11 Aug 2019
Abstract
QuickStep is a cloning method that allows seamless point integration of a DNA sequence at any position within a target plasmid using only Q5 High-Fidelity DNA Polymerase and DpnI endonuclease. This efficient and cost-effective method consists of two steps: two parallel asymmetric PCRs, [...] Read more.
QuickStep is a cloning method that allows seamless point integration of a DNA sequence at any position within a target plasmid using only Q5 High-Fidelity DNA Polymerase and DpnI endonuclease. This efficient and cost-effective method consists of two steps: two parallel asymmetric PCRs, followed by a megaprimer-based whole-plasmid amplification. To further simplify the workflow, enhance the efficiency, and increase the uptake of QuickStep, we replaced the asymmetric PCRs with a conventional PCR that uses phosphorothioate (PTO) oligos to generate megaprimers with 3′ overhangs. The ease and speed of PTO-QuickStep were demonstrated through (1) right-first-time cloning of a 1.8 kb gene fragment into a pET vector and (2) creating a random mutagenesis library for directed evolution. Unlike most ligation-free random mutagenesis library creation methods (e.g., megaprimer PCR of whole plasmid [MEGAWHOP]), PTO-QuickStep does not require the gene of interest to be precloned into an expression vector to prepare a random mutagenesis library. Therefore, PTO-QuickStep is a simple, reliable, and robust technique, adding to the ever-expanding molecular toolbox of synthetic biology and expediting protein engineering via directed evolution. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Directed Evolution of P450 BM3 towards Functionalization of Aromatic O-Heterocycles
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(13), 3353; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20133353 - 08 Jul 2019
Abstract
The O-heterocycles, benzo-1,4-dioxane, phthalan, isochroman, 2,3-dihydrobenzofuran, benzofuran, and dibenzofuran are important building blocks with considerable medical application for the production of pharmaceuticals. Cytochrome P450 monooxygenase (P450) Bacillus megaterium 3 (BM3) wild type (WT) from Bacillus megaterium has low to no conversion of the [...] Read more.
The O-heterocycles, benzo-1,4-dioxane, phthalan, isochroman, 2,3-dihydrobenzofuran, benzofuran, and dibenzofuran are important building blocks with considerable medical application for the production of pharmaceuticals. Cytochrome P450 monooxygenase (P450) Bacillus megaterium 3 (BM3) wild type (WT) from Bacillus megaterium has low to no conversion of the six O-heterocycles. Screening of in-house libraries for active variants yielded P450 BM3 CM1 (R255P/P329H), which was subjected to directed evolution and site saturation mutagenesis of four positions. The latter led to the identification of position R255, which when introduced in the P450 BM3 WT, outperformed all other variants. The initial oxidation rate of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) consumption increased ≈140-fold (WT: 8.3 ± 1.3 min−1; R255L: 1168 ± 163 min−1), total turnover number (TTN) increased ≈21-fold (WT: 40 ± 3; R255L: 860 ± 15), and coupling efficiency, ≈2.9-fold (WT: 8.8 ± 0.1%; R255L: 25.7 ± 1.0%). Computational analysis showed that substitution R255L (distant from the heme-cofactor) does not have the salt bridge formed with D217 in WT, which introduces flexibility into the I-helix and leads to a heme rearrangement allowing for efficient hydroxylation. Full article
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