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Modulating the cellular context broadly reshapes the mutational landscape of a model enzyme

By Samuel Thompson, Yang Zhang, Christine Ingle, Kimberly A Reynolds, Tanja Kortemme

Posted 20 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/848010

Protein mutational landscapes are shaped by the cellular environment, but key factors and their quantitative effects are often unknown. Here we show that Lon, a quality control protease naturally absent in common E. coli expression strains, drastically reshapes the mutational landscape of the metabolic enzyme dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). Selection under conditions that resolve highly active mutants reveals that 23.3% of all single point mutations in DHFR are advantageous in the absence of Lon, but advantageous mutations are largely suppressed when Lon is reintroduced. Protein stability measurements demonstrate extensive activity-stability tradeoffs for the advantageous mutants and provide a mechanistic explanation for Lon's widespread impact. Our findings suggest possibilities for tuning mutational landscapes by modulating the cellular environment, with implications for protein design and combatting antibiotic resistance.

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