Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Ronald L. Koder

Subject Categories

Biophysics | Physics


Bioengineering, Biophysics, Manganese Catalase, Photosynthesis, Protein Design, Protein Engineering


In this work, I describe an approach to the rational, iterative design and characterization of two functional cofactor-binding protein domains. First, a hybrid computational/experimental method was developed with the aim of algorithmically generating a suite of porphyrin-binding protein sequences with minimal mutual sequence information. This method was explored by generating libraries of sequences, which were then expressed and evaluated for function. One successful sequence is shown to bind a variety of porphyrin-like cofactors, and exhibits light- activated electron transfer in mixed hemin:chlorin e6 and hemin:Zn(II)-protoporphyrin IX complexes. These results imply that many sophisticated functions such as cofactor binding and electron transfer require only a very small number of residue positions in a protein sequence to be fixed.

Net charge and hydrophobic content are important in determining protein solubility and stability. Accordingly, rational modifications were made to the aforementioned design procedure in order to improve its overall success rate. The effects of these modifications are explored using two 'next-generation' sequence libraries, which were separately expressed and evaluated. Particular modifications to these design parameters are demonstrated to effectively double the purification success rate of the procedure.

Finally, I describe the redesign of the artificial di-iron protein DF2 into CDM13, a single chain di-Manganese four-helix bundle. CDM13 acts as a functional model of natural manganese catalase, exhibiting a kcat of 0.08s-1 under steady-state conditions. The bound manganese cofactors have a reduction potential of +805 mV vs NHE, which is too high for efficient dismutation of hydrogen peroxide. These results indicate that as a high-potential manganese complex, CDM13 may represent a promising first step toward a polypeptide model of the Oxygen Evolving Complex of the photosynthetic enzyme Photosystem II.