Never Born Proteins
The starting consideration of this research is that the number of proteins on earth is an infinitesimal fraction of the possible number of protein structures and the main question being how these “few” extant proteins have been selected out.
Using totally random DNA sequences and using the phage display technique, a large library of “never born proteins” with an average length of 50 residues (as well as 20 residues) are being produced, a small number of them, randomly selected, are being purified and characterized.
The study of their structural and biochemical properties is in progress, together with the elaboration of their meaning in terms of the biological evolution of proteins and the origin of life in general.
The two main researchers in this field are Cristiano Chiarabelli and Davide de Lucrezia, as well as the students Angelica Piccolomini and Luciana Tamburrino.