Drew Thomson's Research Page

The Design and Characterization of Higher-Order Coiled-coil Assemblies.

Coiled-coils of oligomer states from dimer to tetramer are reasonably well-understood, and are amenable to design. However, coiled-coil assemblies of higher order- pentamer and above- are more of a challenge. There are only a few known examples of such structures, and there is currently not a good enough understanding of sequence-to-structure relationships to allow the design of a higher-order coiled coil from scratch.

I am taking a 'from the ground up' approach to building new higher-order coiled-coil assemblies. Because coiled coils are one of the few protein folds for which a comparatively simple mathematical description exists, it is possible to take into consideration the underlying geometrical rules governing how multiple alpha helices can (or can't) pack together to form a larger assembly.

It is my hope that the products of my research will be of use in a synthetic biological context, as building blocks for more-complex systems. The higher-order structures that will result from this research might also have applications as scaffolds for designed enzymes or channels, or as the basis for new fibrous materials.