Hallucinating artificial proteins that modulate apoptosis

Project type

  • Honours

Project details

AI is revolutionising how we approach protein structure problems. The recent release of RFdiffusion allows accurate design of artificial proteins with novel functionalities (Watson Nature 2023). We have recently established RFdiffusion at WEHI to design proteins that modulate cell fate.

Apoptosis is the principal programmed cell death pathway. Defective apoptosis contributes to a range of diseases including cancer, and degenerative diseases. We are interested in the BCL-2 protein family that regulate mitochondrial apoptosis (Czabotar Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 2023). This project will will use RFdiffusion to design novel BAK protein binders that modulate apoptosis.

This project will suit students with an interest in protein structure and function. It will provide exposure to various techniques including protein crystallography, protein-ligand interaction analysis, and protein design.

About our research group

The Czabotar Lab in principally interested in the BCL-2 family proteins and especially the apoptosis executioner proteins BAK and BAX. This project will be led by a senior postdoc in the Lab – Richard Birkinshaw. We have extensive expertise in protein structure and function, including protein expression and purification, X-ray crystallography, surface plasmon resonance, cryo-electron microscopy and in silico modelling.

Education pathways