Compensatory mutations and epistasis for protein function

Jay F. Storz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Adaptive protein evolution may be facilitated by neutral amino acid mutations that confer no benefit when they first arise but which potentiate subsequent function-altering mutations via direct or indirect structural mechanisms. Theoretical and empirical results indicate that such compensatory interactions (intramolecular epistasis) can exert a strong influence on trajectories of protein evolution. For this reason, assessing the form and prevalence of intramolecular epistasis and characterizing biophysical mechanisms of compensatory interaction are important research goals at the nexus of structural biology and molecular evolution. Here I review recent insights derived from protein-engineering studies, and I describe an approach for identifying and characterizing mechanisms of epistasis that integrates experimental data on structure-function relationships with analyses of comparative sequence data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-25
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Structural Biology
StatePublished - Jun 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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