SONATA BIS grant awarded by NCN

Our SONATA BIS project ranked the third among the grants awarded by National Science Centre (NCN). In this five-year research project, we plan to push the understanding of  unexplored molecular factors essential for biological function of numerous enzymes with buried active sites connected with migration of small cognate molecules through the protein moieties.

Publication in ACS Catalysis

Vanacek P, Sebestova E, Babkova P, Bidmanova S, Daniel L, Dvorak P, Stepankova V, Chaloupkova R, Brezovsky J, Prokop Z, Damborsky J, 2018: Exploration of Enzyme Diversity by Integrating Bioinformatics with Expression Analysis and Biochemical Characterization. ACS Catalysis 8: 2402–2412. full text

Millions of protein sequences are being discovered at an incredible pace, representing an inexhaustible source of biocatalysts. Here, we describe an integrated system for automated in silico screening and systematic characterization of diverse family members. The workflow consists of: (i) identification and computational characterization of relevant genes by sequence/structural bioinformatics, (ii) expression analysis and activity screening of selected proteins, and (iii) complete biochemical/biophysical characterization, was validated against the haloalkane dehalogenase family. The sequence-based search identified 658 potential dehalogenases. The subsequent structural bioinformatics prioritized and selected 20 candidates for exploration of protein functional diversity. Out of these twenty, the expression analysis and the robotic screening of enzymatic activity provided 8 soluble proteins with dehalogenase activity. The enzymes discovered originated from genetically unrelated Bacteria and Eukaryota, and, for the first time, from Archaea. Overall, the integrated system provided biocatalysts with broad catalytic diversity showing unique substrate specificity profiles, covering a wide range of optimal operational temperature from 20 to 70 °C and an unusually broad pH range from 5.7 to 10. We obtained the most catalytically proficient native haloalkane dehalogenase enzyme to date (kcat/K0.5 = 96.8 mM-1.s-1), the most thermostable enzyme with melting temperature 71 °C, three different cold-adapted enzymes showing dehalogenase activity at near-to-zero temperatures and a biocatalyst degrading the warfare chemical sulfur mustard. The established strategy can be adapted to other enzyme families for exploration of their biocatalytic diversity in a large sequence space continuously growing due to the use of next-generation sequencing technologies.

Publication in Biotechnology and Bioengineering

Dvorak P, Bednar D, Vanacek P, Balek L, Eiselleova L, Stepankova V, Sebestova E, Kunova Bosakova M, Konecna Z, Mazurenko S, Kunka A, Vanova T, Zoufalova K, Chaloupkova R, Brezovsky J, Krejci P, Prokop Z, Dvorak P, Damborsky J, 2018: Computer-Assisted Engineering of Hyperstable Fibroblast Growth Factor 2. Biotechnology and Bioengineering (just accepted): doi:

Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) serve numerous regulatory functions in complex organisms, and their corresponding therapeutic potential is of growing interest to academics and industrial researchers alike. However, applications of these proteins are limited due to their low stability. Here we tackle this problem using a generalizable computer-assisted protein engineering strategy to create a unique modified FGF2 with nine mutations displaying unprecedented stability and uncompromised biological function. The data from the characterization of stabilized FGF2 showed a remarkable prediction potential of in silico methods and provided insight into the unfolding mechanism of the protein. The molecule holds a considerable promise for stem cell research and medical or pharmaceutical applications.

OPUS grant awarded by NCN


We have been awarded an OPUS grant from NCN to deliver new approaches for analysis of ligand transport pathways in proteins. The grant will provide funding for notable expansion of our team in the coming three years.