Designing specific protein-protein interactions using computation, experimental library screening, or integrated methods.
ABSTRACT Given the importance of protein-protein interactions for nearly all biological processes, the design of protein affinity reagents for use in research, diagnosis or therapy is an important endeavor. Engineered proteins would ideally have high specificities for their intended targets, but achieving interaction specificity by design can be challenging. There are two major approaches to protein design or redesign. Most commonly, proteins and peptides are engineered using experimental library screening and/or in vitro evolution. An alternative approach involves using protein structure and computational modeling to rationally choose sequences predicted to have desirable properties. Computational design has successfully produced novel proteins with enhanced stability, desired interactions and enzymatic function. Here we review the strengths and limitations of experimental library screening and computational structure-based design, giving examples where these methods have been applied to designing protein interaction specificity. We highlight recent studies that demonstrate strategies for combining computational modeling with library screening. The computational methods provide focused libraries predicted to be enriched in sequences with the properties of interest. Such integrated approaches represent a promising way to increase the efficiency of protein design and to engineer complex functionality such as interaction specificity.