Link Lab

Link lab research
Principal Investigator
A. James Link
Engineering Quadrangle, 207
Protein engineering and chemical biology

Nature has evolved and designed proteins to perform an exquisite array of tasks, but in the pursuit of biotechnological interests, these proteins must often be improved, altered, or even completely redesigned. In the post-genomic era, protein sequence information is abundant and readily available, and structural biology efforts are rapidly increasing the amount of protein structure information. However, the level of intricacy and complexity of most proteins is still such that rational design efforts are often unsuccessful in imparting an improved or new function to a protein. Fortunately, protein engineers can utilize an experimental algorithm that mimics Darwinian evolution to introduce new functions into proteins. In this algorithm, termed directed evolution, thousands or even millions of protein variants are generated by the introduction of mutations to the gene encoding the protein of interest. The library of protein variants is then screened to identify those members of the population with the highest levels of function or activity: a molecular survival of the fittest. One of the major focuses of the Link group is to apply directed evolution to medically relevant proteins...