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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Molecular Anatomy of an Ancient Adaptive Event

Protein engineering identifies the structural basis of a 3.5 billion-year-old adaptation

Antony Dean

Figure 1. Two members of the ICDH family of enzymesClick to Enlarge Image

Not long ago after the first living organisms appeared on earth about 3.5 billion years ago, they started undergoing mutations and adaptations. One of the very earliest of these created two enzymes, each with distinct but related functions, where only one previously existed. Using a combination of the modern techniques of structural biochemistry and protein engineering, combined with molecular phylogeny, the author recreates the story of this very ancient event.


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