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Computational Investigations of Allostery between Proteins and Nucleic Acids in CRISPR-Cas9

Objective

Allostery is a fundamental property of proteins, which regulates biochemical information transfer between spatially distant sites. Many emerging allosteric targets are large protein/nucleic acid complexes responsible for genome editing and regulation, whose underlying signaling remains poorly understood. Here, we focus on CRISPR-Cas9, a large nucleoprotein complex widely employed as a genome editing tool with enormous promises for medicine and biotechnology. In this system, an intricate allosteric signaling is suggested to span the multi-domain Cas9 protein and its associated nucleic acids, controlling the system’s function and specificity. However, in spite of extensive experimental characterization, the molecular basis for this allosteric response are largely unknown, hampering also efficient engineering for improving its genome editing capability. Allosteric-CRISPR will investigate the allosteric regulation in CRISPR-Cas9 by introducing a novel synergistic approach. This will implement the combination of state-of-the-art theoretical methods, including enhanced and multiscale approaches based on classical and ab-initio methods, with network models derived from graph theory and novel centrality analyses that are emerging as powerful to investigate allostery. This will create an innovative protocol that will enable determining the allosteric network of communication over multiple timescales, as well as the relation between allostery and catalysis, which remains unaddressed through classical approaches. This novel way to describe allostery can impact future studies of large nucleoprotein complexes, including newly discovered CRISPR systems, which are governed by similar allosteric rules and hold tremendous potential for genome editing. Finally, by delivering fundamental knowledge on the basic mechanisms underlying genome editing, Allosteric-CRISPR will help the design of improved genome editing tools, impacting their application across the field of life sciences.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/nucleic acid
  • /natural sciences/mathematics/pure mathematics/discrete mathematics/graph theory
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/genome

Call for proposal

ERC-2020-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET MUENCHEN
Address
Arcisstrasse 21
80333 Muenchen
Germany
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 399 632

Beneficiaries (1)

TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET MUENCHEN
Germany
EU contribution
€ 1 399 632
Address
Arcisstrasse 21
80333 Muenchen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments