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Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2007 Apr;11(2):233-9. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

Pathway engineering by designed divergent evolution.

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UCSF/UCB Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720 USA.


Designed divergent evolution is a proposed protein engineering methodology to redesign enzyme function. The methodology was developed on the basis of the theories of divergent molecular evolution: (i) enzymes with more active and specialized functions have evolved from ones with promiscuous functions; (ii) this process is driven by small numbers of amino acid substitutions (plasticity); and (iii) the effects of double or multiple mutations are often additive (quasi-additive assumption). Thus, in many cases the impact of multiple mutations can be calculated by first determining the effects of a mutation at a single position and subsequently summing these effects using the quasi-additive assumption. In this way, the shape of the fitness landscape of a particular enzyme function can be estimated. The combinations of mutations predicted to yield global optima for desired functions can then be selected and introduced into the enzymes. The methodology has been demonstrated to be very powerful to redesign enzyme function. The use of multiple redesigned enzymes in novel or reconstructed metabolic pathways will enable the production of natural and unnatural products that will find use as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and many other applications.

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