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Engineering a protein to prevent brain damage from toxic agents
Date:7/30/2014

iesterases had the power to detoxify these nerve agents, but they were far too fragile to be used therapeutically," she said.

In a process that married computational biology and experimentation, the collaborators used Rosetta computational modeling software to identify sequences in the fluorinated phosphotriesterase protein that could be modified to increase its stability and make therapeutic applications a reality.

The possibilities for this reengineered protein are considerable. Montclare explained that in addition to therapeutic formulations, which could prevent nerve damage in the event of a gas attack or pesticide exposure and would likely be developed first for military use, the proteins could be critical when stores of toxic nerve agents need to be decommissioned.

"Oftentimes, chemical agent stockpiles are decommissioned through processes that involve treatment with heat and caustic chemical reagents for neutralization, followed by hazardous materials disposal," she said. "These proteins could accomplish that same task enzymatically, without the need for reactors and formation of dangerous byproducts."

Plans are under way to begin developing therapeutic applications for this modified phosphotriesterase, and the research team believes that its methodologyusing computational biology to identify potentially beneficial modifications to proteinscould point the way to future breakthroughs in engineered proteins.


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Contact: Kathleen Hamilton
kathleen.hamilton@nyu.edu
718-260-3792
New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering
Source:Eurekalert

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