A population-based experimental model for protein evolution: effects of mutation rate and selection stringency on evolutionary outcomes.
ABSTRACT: Protein evolution is a critical component of organismal evolution and a valuable method for the generation of useful molecules in the laboratory. Few studies, however, have experimentally characterized how fundamental parameters influence protein evolution outcomes over long evolutionary trajectories or multiple replicates. In this work, we applied phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE) as an experimental platform to study evolving protein populations over hundreds of rounds of evolution. We varied evolutionary conditions as T7 RNA polymerase evolved to recognize the T3 promoter DNA sequence and characterized how specific combinations of both mutation rate and selection stringency reproducibly result in different evolutionary outcomes. We observed significant and dramatic increases in the activity of the evolved RNA polymerase variants on the desired target promoter after selection for 96 h, confirming positive selection occurred under all conditions. We used high-throughput sequencing to quantitatively define convergent genetic solutions, including mutational "signatures" and nonsignature mutations that map to specific regions of protein sequence. These findings illuminate key determinants of evolutionary outcomes, inform the design of future protein evolution experiments, and demonstrate the value of PACE as a method for studying protein evolution.
Project description:Phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE) uses a modified filamentous bacteriophage life cycle to substantially accelerate laboratory evolution experiments. In this work, we expand the scope and capabilities of the PACE method with two key advances that enable the evolution of biomolecules with radically altered or highly specific new activities. First, we implemented small molecule-controlled modulation of selection stringency that enables otherwise inaccessible activities to be evolved directly from inactive starting libraries through a period of evolutionary drift. Second, we developed a general negative selection that enables continuous counterselection against undesired activities. We integrated these developments to continuously evolve mutant T7 RNA polymerase enzymes with ?10,000-fold altered, rather than merely broadened, substrate specificities during a single three-day PACE experiment. The evolved enzymes exhibit specificity for their target substrate that exceeds that of wild-type RNA polymerases for their cognate substrates while maintaining wild type-like levels of activity.
Project description:Laboratory evolution has generated many biomolecules with desired properties, but a single round of mutation, gene expression, screening or selection, and replication typically requires days or longer with frequent human intervention. Because evolutionary success is dependent on the total number of rounds performed, a means of performing laboratory evolution continuously and rapidly could dramatically enhance its effectiveness. Although researchers have accelerated individual steps in the evolutionary cycle, the only previous example of continuous directed evolution was the landmark study of Wright and Joyce, who continuously evolved RNA ligase ribozymes with an in vitro replication cycle that unfortunately cannot be easily adapted to other biomolecules. Here we describe a system that enables the continuous directed evolution of gene-encoded molecules that can be linked to protein production in Escherichia coli. During phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE), evolving genes are transferred from host cell to host cell through a modified bacteriophage life cycle in a manner that is dependent on the activity of interest. Dozens of rounds of evolution can occur in a single day of PACE without human intervention. Using PACE, we evolved T7 RNA polymerase (RNAP) variants that recognize a distinct promoter, initiate transcripts with ATP instead of GTP, and initiate transcripts with CTP. In one example, PACE executed 200 rounds of protein evolution over the course of 8 days. Starting from undetectable activity levels in two of these cases, enzymes with each of the three target activities emerged in less than 1 week of PACE. In all three cases, PACE-evolved polymerase activities exceeded or were comparable to that of the wild-type T7 RNAP on its wild-type promoter, representing improvements of up to several hundred-fold. By greatly accelerating laboratory evolution, PACE may provide solutions to otherwise intractable directed evolution problems and address novel questions about molecular evolution.
Project description:To what extent are evolutionary outcomes determined by a population's recent environment, and to what extent do they depend on historical contingency and random chance? Here we apply a unique experimental system to investigate evolutionary reproducibility and path dependence at the protein level. We combined phage-assisted continuous evolution with high-throughput sequencing to analyze evolving protein populations as they adapted to divergent and then convergent selection pressures over hundreds of generations. Independent populations of T7 RNA polymerase genes were subjected to one of two selection histories ("pathways") demanding recognition of distinct intermediate promoters followed by a common final promoter. We observed distinct classes of solutions with unequal phenotypic activity and evolutionary potential evolve from the two pathways, as well as from replicate populations exposed to identical selection conditions. Mutational analysis revealed specific epistatic interactions that explained the observed path dependence and irreproducibility. Our results reveal in molecular detail how protein adaptation to different environments, as well as stochasticity among populations evolved in the same environment, can both generate evolutionary outcomes that preclude subsequent convergence.
Project description:Evolutionary outcomes depend not only on the selective forces acting upon a species, but also on the genetic background. However, large timescales and uncertain historical selection pressures can make it difficult to discern such important background differences between species. Experimental evolution is one tool to compare evolutionary potential of known genotypes in a controlled environment. Here we utilized a highly reproducible evolutionary adaptation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to investigate whether experimental evolution of other yeast species would select for similar adaptive mutations. We evolved populations of S. cerevisiae, S. paradoxus, S. mikatae, S. uvarum, and interspecific hybrids between S. uvarum and S. cerevisiae for 200-500 generations in sulfate-limited continuous culture. Wild-type S. cerevisiae cultures invariably amplify the high affinity sulfate transporter gene, SUL1. However, while amplification of the SUL1 locus was detected in S. paradoxus and S. mikatae populations, S. uvarum cultures instead selected for amplification of the paralog, SUL2. We measured the relative fitness of strains bearing deletions and amplifications of both SUL genes from different species, confirming that, converse to S. cerevisiae, S. uvarum SUL2 contributes more to fitness in sulfate limitation than S. uvarum SUL1. By measuring the fitness and gene expression of chimeric promoter-ORF constructs, we were able to delineate the cause of this differential fitness effect primarily to the promoter of S. uvarum SUL1. Our data show evidence of differential sub-functionalization among the sulfur transporters across Saccharomyces species through recent changes in noncoding sequence. Furthermore, these results show a clear example of how such background differences due to paralog divergence can drive changes in genome evolution. Overall design: All arrays are CGH comparing two genomes using two experimental designs. Control experiments compare differentially labeled DNA from two species to test specificity. The remaining experiments compare the genome content of an experimentally evolved strain with a control.
Project description:The laboratory evolution of protease enzymes has the potential to generate proteases with therapeutically relevant specificities and to assess the vulnerability of protease inhibitor drug candidates to the evolution of drug resistance. Here we describe a system for the continuous directed evolution of proteases using phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE) that links the proteolysis of a target peptide to phage propagation through a protease-activated RNA polymerase (PA-RNAP). We use protease PACE in the presence of danoprevir or asunaprevir, two hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitor drug candidates in clinical trials, to continuously evolve HCV protease variants that exhibit up to 30-fold drug resistance in only 1 to 3 days of PACE. The predominant mutations evolved during PACE are mutations observed to arise in human patients treated with danoprevir or asunaprevir, demonstrating that protease PACE can rapidly identify the vulnerabilities of drug candidates to the evolution of clinically relevant drug resistance.
Project description:The production of toxic metabolites has shaped the spatial and temporal arrangement of metabolic processes within microbial cells. While diverse solutions to mitigate metabolite toxicity have evolved, less is known about how evolution itself is affected by metabolite toxicity. We hypothesized that the pace of molecular evolution should increase as metabolite toxicity increases. At least two mechanisms could cause this. First, metabolite toxicity could increase the mutation rate. Second, metabolite toxicity could increase the number of available mutations with large beneficial effects that selection could act upon (e.g., mutations that provide tolerance to toxicity), which consequently would increase the rate at which those mutations increase in frequency.We tested this hypothesis by experimentally evolving the bacterium Pseudomonas stutzeri under denitrifying conditions. The metabolite nitrite accumulates during denitrification and has pH-dependent toxic effects, which allowed us to evolve P. stutzeri at different magnitudes of nitrite toxicity. We demonstrate that increased nitrite toxicity results in an increased pace of molecular evolution. We further demonstrate that this increase is generally due to an increased number of available mutations with large beneficial effects and not to an increased mutation rate.Our results demonstrate that the production of toxic metabolites can have important impacts on the evolutionary processes of microbial cells. Given the ubiquity of toxic metabolites, they could also have implications for understanding the evolutionary histories of biological organisms.
Project description:As complete genomes accumulate and the generation of genomic biodiversity proceeds at an accelerating pace, the need to understand the interaction between sequence evolution and protein structure and function rises in prominence. The pattern and pace of substitutions in proteins can provide important clues to functional importance, functional divergence, and adaptive response. Coevolution between amino acid residues and the context dependence of the evolutionary process are often ignored, however, because of their complexity, but they are critical for the accurate interpretation of reconstructed evolutionary events. Because residues interact with one another, and because the effect of substitutions can depend on the structural and physiological environment in which they occur, an accurate science of evolutionary functional genomics and a complete understanding of selection in proteins require a better understanding of how context dependence affects protein evolution. Here, we present new evidence from vertebrate cytochrome oxidase sequences that pairwise coevolutionary interactions between protein residues are highly dependent on tertiary and secondary structure. We also discuss theoretical predictions that impinge on our expectations of how protein residues may interact over long distances because of their shared need to maintain protein stability.
Project description:Directed evolution of orthogonal aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (AARSs) enables site-specific installation of noncanonical amino acids (ncAAs) into proteins. Traditional evolution techniques typically produce AARSs with greatly reduced activity and selectivity compared to their wild-type counterparts. We designed phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE) selections to rapidly produce highly active and selective orthogonal AARSs through hundreds of generations of evolution. PACE of a chimeric Methanosarcina spp. pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase (PylRS) improved its enzymatic efficiency (kcat/KMtRNA) 45-fold compared to the parent enzyme. Transplantation of the evolved mutations into other PylRS-derived synthetases improved yields of proteins containing noncanonical residues up to 9.7-fold. Simultaneous positive and negative selection PACE over 48 h greatly improved the selectivity of a promiscuous Methanocaldococcus jannaschii tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase variant for site-specific incorporation of p-iodo-L-phenylalanine. These findings offer new AARSs that increase the utility of orthogonal translation systems and establish the capability of PACE to efficiently evolve orthogonal AARSs with high activity and amino acid specificity.
Project description:Ectothermic species are particularly sensitive to changes in temperature and may adapt to changes in thermal environments through evolutionary shifts in thermal physiology or thermoregulatory behaviour. Nevertheless, the heritability of thermal traits, which sets a limit on evolutionary potential, remains largely unexplored. In this study, we captured brown anole lizards (Anolis sagrei) from two populations that occur in contrasting thermal environments. We raised offspring from these populations in a laboratory common garden and compared the shape of their thermal performance curves to test for genetic divergence in thermal physiology. Thermal performance curves differed between populations in a common garden in ways partially consistent with divergent patterns of natural selection experienced by the source populations, implying that they had evolved in response to selection. Next, we estimated the heritability of thermal performance curves and of several traits related to thermoregulatory behaviour. We did not detect significant heritability in most components of the thermal performance curve or in several aspects of thermoregulatory behaviour, suggesting that contemporary selection is unlikely to result in rapid evolution. Our results indicate that the response to selection may be slow in the brown anole and that evolutionary change is unlikely to keep pace with current rates of environmental change.
Project description:Prediction of evolutionary trajectories has been an elusive goal, requiring a deep knowledge of underlying mechanisms that relate genotype to phenotype plus understanding how phenotype impacts organismal fitness. We tested our ability to predict molecular regulatory evolution in a bacteriophage (T7) whose RNA polymerase (RNAP) was altered to recognize a heterologous promoter differing by three nucleotides from the wild-type promoter. A mutant of wild-type T7 lacking its RNAP gene was passaged on a bacterial strain providing the novel RNAP in trans. Higher fitness rapidly evolved. Predicting the evolutionary trajectory of this adaptation used measured in vitro transcription rates of the novel RNAP on the six promoter sequences capturing all possible one-step pathways between the wild-type and the heterologous promoter sequences. The predictions captured some of the regulatory evolution but failed both in explaining 1) a set of T7 promoters that consistently failed to evolve and 2) some promoter evolution that fell outside the expected one-step pathways. Had a more comprehensive set of transcription assays been undertaken initially, all promoter evolution would have fallen within predicted bounds, but the lack of evolution in some promoters is unresolved. Overall, this study points toward the increasing feasibility of predicting evolution in well-characterized, simple systems.