5 years ago

Evolution of protein specificity: insights from ancestral protein reconstruction

Evolution of protein specificity: insights from ancestral protein reconstruction
Specific interactions between proteins and their molecular partners drive most biological processes, so understanding how these interactions evolve is an important question for biochemists and evolutionary biologists alike. It is often thought that ancestral proteins were systematically more promiscuous than modern proteins and that specificity usually evolves after gene duplication by partitioning and refining the activities of multifunctional ancestors. However, recent studies using ancestral protein reconstruction (APR) have found that ligand-specific functions in some modern protein families evolved de novo from ancestors that did not already have those functions. Further, the new specific interactions evolved by simple mechanisms, with just a few mutations changing classically recognized biochemical determinants of specificity, such as steric and electrostatic complementarity. Acquiring new specific interactions during evolution therefore appears to be neither difficult nor rare. Rather, it is likely that proteins continually gain and lose new activities over evolutionary time as mutations cause subtle but consequential changes in the shape and electrostatics of interaction interfaces. Only a few of these activities, however, are incorporated into the biological processes that contribute to fitness before they are lost to the ravages of further mutation.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0959440X17300192

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