Universiteit Leiden

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Chemical Biology Lecture: Chemical Protein Synthesis - Providing Tailor-Made Proteins for Biology and Medicine

Thursday 22 November 2018
Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden

Prof. Christian Becker works on one of the most challenging areas in organic chemistry, namely protein total synthesis. In the field, he is widely recognized for his major contributions to the development of elegant methods based on total en semi synthesis of modified proteins as well as their use in the study of their role in health and disease of PTMs such as lipidation, glycosylation, glycation and others. His group achieved the first total synthesis of an integral membrane kinase (DAGK) in E.coli as well as the semi-synthesis of membrane-attached proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases such as the prion protein.  In 2016, he was awarded with the prestigious Leonidas Zervas award of European Peptide Society.


The ability to produce proteins in the laboratory and to change their structures and therefore their properties in a controlled fashion is of crucial importance in basic biological research, in biotechnology and increasingly in medical applications. I will discuss our latest efforts to use chemoselective ligation methods to assemble homogeneous, site-specifically modified proteins from peptides made by solid phase synthesis and from protein segments produced by expression.

Examples that involve the (semi-)synthesis of proteins with specific posttranslational modifications, including lipidation, phosphorylation as well as so far rarely investigated non-enzymatic protein modifications will be presented. The resulting proteins are unique tools to address open questions related to specific modifications of amino acid side chains, e.g. in cellular recognition, aging and neurodegenerative diseases.

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