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IBMB Seminar, Tuesday, February 7th 12:30 PM | DR. ROBERTO CHICA

    Date: Tuesday, February 7th | Felix Serratosa room | 07|02|2023

    Time: 12:30 PM

    Speaker: Roberto Chica.

    Department of Chemistry, Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Ottawa , Canada.

    Title: Harnessing conformational flexibility to design more efficient and selective enzymes

    Hosting researcher: Dra. Noelia Ferruz and Dr. Enrique Marcos




    Enzymes are flexible macromolecules that can sample multiple structural states, described by a conformational energy landscape. It is the relative stability of these conformational states, and the ability of enzymes to transition between them, that ultimately dictates enzymatic function. Yet, standard computational enzyme design algorithms use a single rigid protein scaffold as design template, ignoring the important contributions of conformational dynamics in enzyme catalysis. In the past few years, my group has developed multistate computational design methods that allow proteins to be modelled as structural ensembles that more realistically represent the range of conformations that these molecules can adopt, and applied them to the design of protein stability, binding specificity and conformational switching. In this seminar, I will describe our recent work on the application of these methods to accurately design more efficient artificial enzymes than previously possible and remodel an enzyme conformational landscape for altered substrate selectivity.


    Roberto Chica is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Ottawa, where he started his independent career in 2010. Prior to that, he earned his doctoral degree at Université de Montréal, where he worked on enzyme engineering under Joelle Pelletier, before spending just over two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech working with Stephen Mayo on computational protein design. Since establishing his independent research program, Dr. Chica has been pushing the boundaries of protein engineering through his work in the development and experimental validation of multistate approaches to computational protein design that enable the fine-tuning of conformational flexibility to tailor pre-existing functions or create new ones. His outstanding contributions to research have earned him several prominent awards, including an Ontario Early Researcher Award (2015), the inaugural Young Investigator Award of the Biophysical Society of Canada (2019), and the 2019 Melanie O’Neill Young Investigator Award in Biological Chemistry, the most prestigious distinction for early-career biological chemists in Canada. He is the current Editor-in-Chief of Protein Engineering, Design and Selection (an Oxford University Press journal), serves as Director of APRENTICE, a multi-institutional graduate training program for the protein engineers of the future (funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), and is the founder of the biennial Protein Engineering Canada Conference, which is now in its 4th edition.

    Felix Serratosa room. Please, members of IBMB, check your mailbox.

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