Teaching cells to create and harness non-standard amino acids
Proteins are incredible polymeric nano-machines and the molecular workhorses of cells. Despite their diversity of structure and function, their abilities are limited by the chemistry of the twenty standard amino acids used for protein synthesis. We will teach cells to make and integrate amino acids that can respond to a variety of stimuli, initiate various processes, and form chemical bonds with biologically orthogonal functional groups. By doing so, we will enable precise control of proteins and polypeptide biomaterials without perturbing their structure.