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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Dec;69(23):3999-4006. doi: 10.1007/s00018-012-1077-3. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

Emergence of symmetric protein architecture from a simple peptide motif: evolutionary models.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, Florida State University, 1115 West Call St., Tallahassee, FL, 32306-4300, USA,


Structural symmetry is observed in the majority of fundamental protein folds and gene duplication and fusion evolutionary processes are postulated to be responsible. However, convergent evolution leading to structural symmetry has also been proposed; additionally, there is debate regarding the extent to which exact primary structure symmetry is compatible with efficient protein folding. Issues of symmetry in protein evolution directly impact strategies for de novo protein design as symmetry can substantially simplify the design process. Additionally, when considering gene duplication and fusion in protein evolution, there are two competing models: "emergent architecture" and "conserved architecture". Recent experimental work has shed light on both the evolutionary process leading to symmetric protein folds as well as the ability of symmetric primary structure to efficiently fold. Such studies largely support a "conserved architecture" evolutionary model, suggesting that complex protein architecture was an early evolutionary achievement involving oligomerization of smaller polypeptides.

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