DOI: 10.3390/ijms25010223 ISSN: 1422-0067

Biosynthesis, Engineering, and Delivery of Selenoproteins

David E. Wright, Patrick O’Donoghue
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • Catalysis

Selenocysteine (Sec) was discovered as the 21st genetically encoded amino acid. In nature, site-directed incorporation of Sec into proteins requires specialized biosynthesis and recoding machinery that evolved distinctly in bacteria compared to archaea and eukaryotes. Many organisms, including higher plants and most fungi, lack the Sec-decoding trait. We review the discovery of Sec and its role in redox enzymes that are essential to human health and important targets in disease. We highlight recent genetic code expansion efforts to engineer site-directed incorporation of Sec in bacteria and yeast. We also review methods to produce selenoproteins with 21 or more amino acids and approaches to delivering recombinant selenoproteins to mammalian cells as new applications for selenoproteins in synthetic biology.

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