Predicting novel proteins by exon shuffling using human mRNA

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Kurt Denning

Mentors: Dr. CR Vinayaka, Georgetown University and Nagarajan Pattabiraman, MolBoxLLC

Date/Time: August 23rd, 2022 at 4:00pm.

Abstract: In this project, the inspiration was from exon shuffling, one example of how genetic evolution occurs. Exon shuffling as a concept led to the idea of breaking up the genome not only into exons and introns, but then into smaller pieces yet which Dr. Vinayaka termed pexons. These have been formed by taking only the pieces of exons which lie in coding regions of proteins. Having these building blocks that are the pieces to make up proteins could then have many applications, including forming novel proteins.

 For this, python programs were used to process the genbank files in order to extract the necessary information as well as to format it into FASTA files which could then be used for data analysis. This analysis was done with cd-hit, a program for clustering which in this case was used for protein sequence.

Unfortunately, I never developed this project far enough to go through applications of pexons, such as using modeling software to attempt to construct a better protein, or to construct an entirely new protein, though I do believe that these are possibilities in the future with these building blocks of biology.