Protein engineering with unnatural amino acids

William H. Zhang, Gottfried Otting, Colin J. Jackson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    78 Citations (Scopus)


    Protein engineering has become an extensively used tool in many fields, allowing us to probe protein function, characterize proteins using a range of biophysical techniques, chemically modify proteins and improve protein function for medical and industrial applications. It is now possible to site-specifically incorporate unnatural, or non-canonical, amino acids (uAAs) into proteins, which has had a major impact on protein engineering. In this review, we discuss the recent technical developments in the field and how uAA-protein engineering is becoming an increasingly valuable molecular tool, with the unique chemical functionalities of some uAAs allowing a range of otherwise impossible experiments to be performed. Finally, the impediments that have resulted in a relatively small number of recent studies in which uAA-protein engineering has been used to improve protein function are discussed, alongside some of the recent technical developments that may serve to overcome these obstacles.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)581-587
    Number of pages7
    JournalCurrent Opinion in Structural Biology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


    Dive into the research topics of 'Protein engineering with unnatural amino acids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this