Designing proteins with life sustaining activities 1

Published on April 3, 2017   33 min

Other Talks in the Series: Protein Folding, Aggregation and Design

0:00
Hello, I'm Michael Hecht from Princeton University. And today, I'm going to discuss Designing Proteins with Life Sustaining Activities.
0:10
I'd liked to start this presentation with a quote from the chemist Albert Eschenmoser who said that, "The origin of life cannot be discovered, it has to be re-invented." And what Eschenmoser was saying here is that it's difficult, perhaps impossible, to go back in time and discover how life originated on earth. So as an alternative to that, we can think about the origin of life in an experimental way, we can think about reinventing life. And so today's talk is going to talk about life reinvented.
0:41
So this slide here shows a schematic of what we might consider the essentials of life. I've put three boxes here on the slide to highlight that in order to have a living system, three things are essential. First, we need molecular machinery. Molecules that do stuff, that do the structural and functional tasks that are necessary to maintain life. Then of course, these molecular machines have to be encoded in some way that is heritable and passed on to the next generation. And finally, of course, one needs a boundary, something that separates the living system from the surroundings. In living systems as we know them, the molecular machinery is typically made up of proteins. And all the proteins in the living system is described as the proteome. That protein machinery is encoded in DNA, genes, and all the genes in living system is the genome of that living system. And finally, boundaries are typically the membrane, cell walls, or skins that separate the living system from its surroundings. The arrows shown here indicate that we should consider each of these three things as interconnected, molecular machinery, proteins are involved in synthesizing DNA, DNA codes for proteins, all of these things are encapsulated by the boundary. So as we move forward with the idea of life reinvented. Today, we're going to focus primarily on the molecular machinery. We're going to think about whether it is possible to devise novel molecular machines, novel proteins that can perform the essential tasks necessary for life. And if we can do that, the other two boxes will come along for the ride. In other words, if we can devise novel proteins with life-sustaining capabilities, then it's pretty straightforward to make synthetic genes and genomes that will encode them. And then we'll leave it for somebody else to think about the idea of boundaries, cell walls, and membranes. Okay, so we're going to think about making novel proteins and so many novel proteins perhaps that we can think of them as comprising an artificial proteome that might be sufficient to sustain life reinvented.
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Designing proteins with life sustaining activities 1

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