Laboratory of Protein Engineering

Laboratory of Protein Engineering

RNDr. Jiří Zahradník, Ph.D.

RNDr. Jiří Zahradník, Ph.D. — Project head

1st Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University

About us

Proteins are frequently called the building blocks of life because they are found everywhere and take part in all cellular functions. Their complexity is both fascinating and shocking at the same time. The dramatic development of computational and experimental methods in the last decade significantly changed our understanding of proteins, allowing us to study protein molecules previously unapproachable as well as facilitate their targeted modifications.

Our laboratory focuses on the development and use of modern in vitro evolution and protein engineering techniques to study biological phenomena inaccessible with traditional structural biology methods, relying on protein expression and purification. Our general approach is to evolve alternatives to natural proteins better suited for laboratory use and employ them for deciphering the wild-type protein properties. This is primarily applied to proteins and protein-protein interactions involved in pathogen-host interactions and immune system as well as studying protein and their interfaces evolution.

Currently we focus on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its interaction with the cellular receptor ACE2. Our goal is to predict and map evolutionary pathways of SARS-CoV-2. The rapid emergence of new variants quickly replacing current ones requires the development of tools that allow immediate response, analysis, and further prediction. In the future, we are going to apply our optimized approaches to other pathogens and challenges.