Skip to Content

Directed Evolution of Nanobodies for COVID-19 Prevention


Author(s)

Stefanie H. Chen
Department of Biological Sciences
North Carolina State University
slchen2@ncsu.edu
Andrea Bixler
Biology Department
Clarke University
andrea.bixler@clarke.edu

Abstract

Directed evolution is a laboratory process that mimics the steps of natural selection to efficiently determine variants of proteins or organisms that respond more effectively to a selected condition. This process was recognized by the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Dr. Frances Arnold and has widespread applications, ranging from industrial enzymes to food-producing yeast. Recently, this technology has been applied to identifying and improving potential therapeutics to protect against infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In this jigsaw case study, students become experts on the various components of such research (including directed evolution, yeast surface display, nanobodies, and protein binding) before teaching their peers and applying their newly acquired knowledge to the interpretation of a primary research article on SARS-CoV-2. As a concluding activity, students create a concept map or diagram connecting the directed evolution process to natural selection. The case includes two levels of sophistication, which are clearly indicated: introductory (Level 1) and advanced (Level 2). The case was developed for use in either an introductory biology or genetics course (Level 1) or an upper-level molecular biology course (Level 2).


Objectives

  • Describe nanobodies and how they differ from antibodies.
  • Articulate the features and purpose of a yeast surface display library.
  • Diagram the process of directed evolution of proteins.
  • Compare and contrast directed evolution with natural selection.
  • Explain how nanobodies can block transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

Keywords

Directed evolution; natural selection; high-throughput; antibodies; COVID 19; Spike; spike protein; nanobodies; affinity; protein binding; yeast surface display; library; SARS-CoV-2; protein engineering

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Directed, Flipped, Jig-Saw

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biochemistry  |   Biology (General)  |   Biotechnology  |   Evolutionary Biology  |   Molecular Biology  |  


Date Posted

08/02/2021

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Videos

The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

Comments