Enzyme Evolution

Something from nothing

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Science  25 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6391, pp. 871-872
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6391.871-f

Specialized enzymes often originate from the refinement of a promiscuous enzyme by evolution, rather than through the emergence of activity from an inactive protein. Chalcone isomerase (CHI) catalyzes a simple chemical reaction but emerged within a protein family whose other extant members have no known enzymatic function. Kaltenbach et al. used phylogenetic reconstruction to predict the sequence of ancestors along the course of CHI evolution. The distant ancestor of the protein family had no CHI activity, despite presenting catalytic residues within an active site–like pocket. A small number of peripheral mutations could induce CHI activity in the ancestral protein, unlocking the catalytic potential already present in the binding site.

Nat. Chem. Biol. 10.1038/s41589-018-0042-3 (2018).

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