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Protein engineers turned evolutionists

When generating novel tailor-made proteins, protein engineers routinely apply the principles of 'Darwinian' evolution. However, laboratory evolution of proteins also has the potential to test evolutionary theories and reproduce evolutionary scenarios, thus reconstructing putative protein intermediates and providing a glimpse of 'protein fossils'. This commentary describes research at the interface of applied and fundamental molecular evolution, and provides a personal view of how synergy between fundamental and applied experiments indicates novel and more efficient ways of generating new proteins in the laboratory.

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Figure 1: Neutral drifts boost enzyme evolvability.

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Acknowledgements

This brief and very personal commentary addresses the interface between protein engineering and fundamental molecular evolution. The reference list is therefore rather subjective, and we apologize for not citing a myriad of interesting and relevant work. Research Grants by the Israel Science Foundation and the Estate of Fannie Sherr are gratefully acknowledged. S.G.P. was the recipient of a D. Stone Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Feinberg Graduate School.

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Peisajovich, S., Tawfik, D. Protein engineers turned evolutionists. Nat Methods 4, 991–994 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmeth1207-991

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