Background: The immunoglobulin framework has been mutagenized to engineer recombinant libraries of proteins as potential diagnostics and novel catalysts, although the often shallow binding cleft may limit the utility of this framework for binding diverse small organic molecules. By contrast, the glutathione S-transferase (GST) family of enzymes contains a deep binding cleft, which has evolved to accommodate a broad range of hydrophobic xenobiotics. We set out to determine whether GST molecules with novel ligand-binding characteristics could be produced by random mutagenesis of segments of the binding cleft. Results: We have identified two ligand-recognition segments (LRSs) in human GST P1, which are near the active site in the folded protein, but have characteristics indicating that the integrity of their sequence is not essential for the overall structure or activity of the protein. Libraries of GST P1-derived proteins were produced by substituting randomized sequences for an LRS or inserting random sequences into an LRS. The recombinant proteins in the libraries, collectively designated as 'glubodies,' generally retain enzymatic activity but differ markedly both from each other and from the parent enzyme in sensitivity to inhibition by diverse small organic compounds. In some instances, a glubody is inhibited by completely novel structures. Conclusions: We have shown that a non-antibody framework can be used to create large libraries of proteins with a wide range of binding specificities for small organic molecules. The glubodies provide a rich source of data for correlating the structural and functional features of proteins relevant to ligand binding. The criteria applied for identifying an LRS in GST P1 are generally applicable to other protein frameworks. © Current Biology Ltd.
Napolitano, E. W., Villar, H. O., Kauvar, L. M., Higgins, D. L., Roberts, D., Mandac, J., … Tainer, J. A. (1996). Glubodies: Randomized libraries of glutathione transferase enzymes. Chemistry and Biology, 3(5), 359–367. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1074-5521(96)90119-2