How do sunflowers make protein drugs in their seeds? (2012)
Time and again, scientists pursuing bioactivities within natural extracts stumble upon small, ultra-stable, protein rings. Sunflower seeds contain one such ring that has gone on to inspire drug designers around the world for its ability to block digestive enzymes. We recently discovered the unusual way these rings emerge from unrelated sunflower proteins by co-opting their processing machinery. In this proposal we seek to understand the molecular basis of this processing to improve our ability to manipulate it in other plant systems for the manufacture of protein drugs, thereby addressing an important barrier to more widespread acceptance of protein drugs; their cost of production.