Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jenny J Yang - Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Zhi Ren Liu - Co-Chair

Third Advisor

Giovanni Gadda


Using protein design, a series of metal binding proteins have been designed, allowing the local factors that contribute to metal affinity and thermostability to be studied. Those proteins with the highest metal binding affinities had the lowest apo-form Tm and the largest ÄTm upon metal binding. In this thesis, major steps have been taken toward applying the engineered protein to MR imaging. The progress of magnetic resonance imaging is hindered by low specificity and rapid elimination of FDA-approved MRI contrast agents. The engineered protein contrast agent has been conjugated to a cancer-specific targeting peptide and encapsulated in albumin microspheres to provide tandem passive and active tumor targeting. Also, a simple, high-yield purification method has been developed.


Included in

Biology Commons