PhD student
Enantis s.r.o., Dr. Veronika Stepankova
Department of Experimental Biology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University
Contact email:
ES-Cat start date: 1st April 2017

Holding a degree in biochemical engineering, I worked multiple internship on biotechnology topics. I started by working on the optimization of production and purification of a recombinant glucansucrase enzyme in the Biocatalysis group of LISBP in Toulouse, followed by a work in metabolic engineering of Clostridium acetobutylicum to produce an IBE (Isopropanol, Butanol, Ethanol) biofuel focusing on the optimization of a synthetic pathway. After a six month internship in cancer molecular biology, studying the microenvironment of glioblastoma multiform to broaden my horizons, I went back to biotechnology, and more precisely to protein engineering, my main research interest and joined the ES-Cat project and Enantis as a PhD student.

Training and Transferable Skills:

  • Recombinant protein production and purification
  • HPLC, and GC
  • Cloning
  • Protein characterization (Thermal Shift Assay, DSC, DSF, Circular Dichroism, ITC measuring)
  • Site-directed mutagenesis
  • Protein crystallization

Research Projects: The fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are extracellular proteins that regulate many aspects of embryonic development and adult homeostasis. FGFs are involved in angiogenesis, wound healing, and embryonic development regulating growth of specific tissues. These proteins have great potential for use in medicine, cosmetics and stem cell research. However, the application potential of FGFs is limited due to their natural instability. Main goal of this project will be rational and semi-rational engineering of selected FGF proteins to enhance their thermodynamic and kinetic stability. Stabilized proteins will be subsequently characterized to determine their binding interactions with heparan sulfate by using of various biophysical methods. The FGF biological functions are controlled by their interactions with heparan sulfate. Transport of FGFs between cells is determined by heparan sulfate (co-receptor) binding which is required for the assembly of high affinity signaling complexes with their cognate FGF receptor. Moreover, the interactions of FGFs with heparan sulfate in extracellular matrices control their transport from a source to a target cell. Various methods of molecular biology including site directed mutagenesis, site saturation mutagenesis and directed evolution will be used to construct stable variants of selected FGFs. Diversification of the specificity of FGF-heparan sulfate interactions will be identified by a range of complementary techniques, such as isothermal titration calorimetry, circular dichroism spectroscopy and differential scanning fluorimetry. Biological activity of evolved molecules will be evaluated by the CyQUANT® Cell Proliferation Assays with cell lines of mouse fibroblast (e.g., NIH/3T3).