Altering the Specificity of IDH by Directed Evolution

John Jin Kim : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Professor Daniel E. Koshland, Jr., MCB

John plans to alter the specificity of a well-characterized enzyme (IDH) from its natural substrate to a close relative (IPM) by using a process called directed evolution via random mutagenesis. Challenging a holy grail in biochemistry, John will attempt to change the specificity of the enzyme without losing its catalytic power. Although past attempts at rational protein design have produced only limited success, random mutagenesis is a promising new technique in which evolution that normally takes millions of years is compacted into a few months. John's research will lead to a better understanding of the features that are important in enzyme/substrate interactions and will enable future researchers to better engineer proteins that will have direct socially beneficial applications.