There are near-to-infinite combinations of possibilities for evolution to happen within nature, making it yet impossible to predict how it occurs. However, science is now able to understand the mechanisms underpinning the evolution of biological systems and can use this knowledge to experimentally mimic nature. The fundamentals of evolution have been used in vitro to improve enzymes as suitable biocatalysts for applications in a process called 'Directed Evolution of Enzymes' (DEE). It replicates nature's evolutionary steps of introducing genetic variability into enzymes, selecting the fittest variants and transmitting the genetic information for the next generation. DEE has tailored biocatalysts for applications, expanding the repertoire of enzymatic activities, besides providing experimental evidences to support mechanistic hypotheses of molecular evolution and deepen our understanding about nature. In this mini review, I discuss the basic concepts of DEE, the most used methodologies and current technical advancements, providing examples of applications and perspectives.
- direct evolution
- protein engineering