Foldit Lab Report #9: Stay home, play games

A slew of new coronavirus puzzles and a software update that should improve all of your designs. Watch our latest lab report for more.

NEWS
- 100 anti-inflammatory designs have been selected for lab testing
- A new software update will help beat back BUNS

PUZZLE UPDATES
- Coronavirus: structure prediction
- Coronavirus: inflammatory
- Coronavirus: binder design

DESIGN OF THE MONTH
- Migi's impressive backbone H-bonds

LAB UPDATES
- DNA synthesis has been hampering our laboratory testing – but we have a work-around!

(Mon, 06/01/2020 - 15:26  |  4 comments)
spvincent's picture
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Might solid-phase peptide

Might solid-phase peptide synthesis be a viable alternative to synthesizing the gene that encodes the protein?

bkoep's picture
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More difficult

I should probably clarify: the attempted explanation in the video is for solid-phase DNA synthesis, to produce DNA genes that encode the protein. Once we have that DNA, we can easily stick it into yeast cells, which will decode the DNA and make lots of protein very cheaply.

Solid-phase peptide synthesis is an entirely different technique that bypasses the need for DNA and yeast. In principle, this works similar to the DNA synthesis described, where individual subunits are linked together into a chain. Except now we are linking together amino acids instead of nucleotides, and this synthesis produces a protein instead of a gene.

Unfortunately, the peptide synthesis is significantly more involved than DNA synthesis and does not lend itself as well to batch production. For proteins like those designed by Foldit players, the DNA->yeast->protein route is cheaper, faster, and more convenient.

spvincent's picture
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tx bkoep but perhaps this

tx bkoep but perhaps this work

https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/protein-synthesis-revolution-on-way-as-large-peptides-made-in-hours-not-days/4011891.article

might one day tip the balance back in favour of direct peptide synthesis

bkoep's picture
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Very cool!

Yes, that's an exciting development -- especially for peptides with non-canonical amino acids. Still, I think it will be some time before we can compete with the economy and efficiency of a yeast cell.

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