Research Article

De novo design of transmembrane β barrels

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Science  19 Feb 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6531, eabc8182
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc8182

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Building a barrel

Computational design offers the possibility of making proteins with customized structures and functions. The range of accessible protein scaffolds has expanded with the design of increasingly complex cytoplasmic proteins and, recently, helical membrane proteins. Vorobieva et al. describe the successful computational design of eight-stranded transmembrane β-barrel proteins (TMBs). Using an iterative approach, they show the importance of negative design to prevent off-target structures and gain insight into the sequence determinants of TMB folding. Twenty-three designs satisfied biochemical screens for a TMB structure, and two structures were experimentally validated by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy or x-ray crystallography. This is a step toward the custom design of pores for applications such as single-molecule sequencing.

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