Protein Engineering Toward the Production of Biomimetic Membrane Systems for Sensing and Separation

  • Wei, Yinan (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


NASA's strategic plan to extend and sustain human activities across the solar system demands innovative space technologies including advanced chemical separation systems for life support and diagnosis in space medicine. Biomimetic membranes, which combine the superb selectivity and activity of the biological component (protein) with the durability and versatility of the non-biological supporting matrix, have the potential to address these needs. A key part of biomimetic membranes is protein, which is usually the functional component of the membrane system that brings in superb functionality, selectivity, specificity, and efficiency. At the same time, the protein component is usually also the weakest link in the membrane in terms of intrinsic stability, which limits the practical application of such membranes. In this study we will develop strategies to improve the stability of membrane proteins, using the water channel protein aquaporin as a model. Specifically, we will test two strategies: the optimization of b-turns and the introduction of tailor-made disulfide bond. The developed methodologies can be adapted for other proteins for various space medicine and separation applications. In the meantime, an undergraduate student, Travis Combs, will gain hand-on experience on research in the field of modern molecular biology and biochemistry, which will be a valuable enrichment of his college education and help to shape his career path.
Effective start/end date1/1/1312/31/13


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