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CeNS Colloquium

Kleiner Physikhörsaal LMU
Date: 05.05.2017, Time: 15:30h

Bacterial superglues, protein dream-teams, and nanoassemblies to tickle the immune system

Prof. Mark Howarth, University of Oxford

What is the key to making unbreakable interactions between biomolecules and what impact can strong interactions have for studying and controlling cell function? To achieve covalent protein-protein interaction, we have harnessed remarkable surface proteins from the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes. By rational engineering, we generated a peptide (SpyTag) that spontaneously reacts to form an isopeptide bond to the protein partner (SpyCatcher). The reaction is high-yielding, genetically-encodable and shows specificity in cellular contexts. We now have a set of bacterial superglues, to build multi-functional protein teams and tune surface receptor signalling on cancer cells and immune cells. The plug-and-play nature of this assembly should allow exploration of new kinds of biological architectures and accelerate vaccine generation, including for malaria. I will also describe enhancing one of the strongest non-covalent interactions (streptavidin-biotin) for microscopy and how to achieve precise multi-fluorophore positioning to maximize both function and brightness.