Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering Professor Jay Keasling and collaborators have developed a technique to guide the evolution of certain proteins toward a desired outcome.
Collaborating with Keasling on this project were graduate student Yasuo Yoshikuni and Thomas Ferrin, UCSF professor of pharmaceutical chemistry and biopharmaceutical sciences and member of the Bioengineering Graduate Group. The results of this study were reported in the February 22 on-line edition of the journal Nature.
The researchers took a “promiscuous” enzyme from the Grand Fir tree, a protein that can evolve into many different things, and were able to substitute in amino acides to synthesize a group of very specific hydrocarbon compounds.
This technology could be useful in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals. Read more about this research at Lawrence Berkeley Lab.