Recently, we described a strategy for the design of miniature proteins that bind DNA and protein surfaces with high affinity and selectivity. This strategy involves identifying the functional epitope required for macromolecular recognition by a natural protein and presenting it on a small, stable protein scaffold. In previous work, high-affinity DNA recognition was achieved only when the miniature protein contained the complete functional epitope. Here we report a miniature homeodomain that recognizes its 6-bp target site in the nanomolar concentration range at 25 °C, despite the absence of DNA contact residues located along the homeodomain N-terminal arm. We conclude that miniature proteins can achieve high affinity and selectivity for DNA by design even when the functional epitope is incomplete by using pre-organization to effectively compensate for lost protein-DNA contacts. In this case it has been possible to miniaturize both the recognition surface and the structural framework of a globular protein fold.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry