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  1. Abstract

    Interactions between mutations (epistasis) can add substantial complexity to genotype-phenotype maps, hampering our ability to predict evolution. Yet, recent studies have shown that the fitness effect of a mutation can often be predicted from the fitness of its genetic background using simple, linear relationships. This phenomenon, termedglobal epistasis, has been leveraged to reconstruct fitness landscapes and infer adaptive trajectories in a wide variety of contexts. However, little attention has been paid to how patterns of global epistasis may be affected by environmental variation, despite this variation frequently being a major driver of evolution. This is particularly relevant for the evolution of drug resistance, where antimicrobial drugs may change the environment faced by pathogens and shape their adaptive trajectories in ways that can be difficult to predict. By analyzing a fitness landscape of four mutations in a gene encoding an essential enzyme ofP. falciparum(a parasite cause of malaria), here we show that patterns of global epistasis can be strongly modulated by the concentration of a drug in the environment. Expanding on previous theoretical results, we demonstrate that this modulation can be quantitatively explained by how specific gene-by-gene interactions are modified by drug dose. Importantly, our results highlight the need to incorporate potential environmental variation into the global epistasis framework in order to predict adaptation in dynamic environments.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Despite several decades of computational and experimental work across many systems, evolvability remains on the periphery with regards to its status as a widely accepted and regularly applied theoretical concept. Here we propose that its marginal status is partly a result of large gaps between the diverse but disconnected theoretical treatments of evolvability and the relatively narrower range of studies that have tested it empirically. To make this case, we draw on a range of examples—from experimental evolution in microbes, to molecular evolution in proteins—where attempts have been made to mend this disconnect. We highlight some examples of progress that has been made and point to areas where synthesis and translation of existing theory can lead to further progress in the still‐new field of empirical measurements of evolvability.

     
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  3. Malik, Harmit S. (Ed.)
    The sequence space accessible to evolving proteins can be enhanced by cellular chaperones that assist biophysically defective clients in navigating complex folding landscapes. It is also possible, at least in theory, for proteostasis mechanisms that promote strict quality control to greatly constrain accessible protein sequence space. Unfortunately, most efforts to understand how proteostasis mechanisms influence evolution rely on artificial inhibition or genetic knockdown of specific chaperones. The few experiments that perturb quality control pathways also generally modulate the levels of only individual quality control factors. Here, we use chemical genetic strategies to tune proteostasis networks via natural stress response pathways that regulate the levels of entire suites of chaperones and quality control mechanisms. Specifically, we upregulate the unfolded protein response (UPR) to test the hypothesis that the host endoplasmic reticulum (ER) proteostasis network shapes the sequence space accessible to human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) envelope (Env) protein. Elucidating factors that enhance or constrain Env sequence space is critical because Env evolves extremely rapidly, yielding HIV strains with antibody- and drug-escape mutations. We find that UPR-mediated upregulation of ER proteostasis factors, particularly those controlled by the IRE1-XBP1s UPR arm, globally reduces Env mutational tolerance. Conserved, functionally important Env regions exhibit the largest decreases in mutational tolerance upon XBP1s induction. Our data indicate that this phenomenon likely reflects strict quality control endowed by XBP1s-mediated remodeling of the ER proteostasis environment. Intriguingly, and in contrast, specific regions of Env, including regions targeted by broadly neutralizing antibodies, display enhanced mutational tolerance when XBP1s is induced, hinting at a role for host proteostasis network hijacking in potentiating antibody escape. These observations reveal a key function for proteostasis networks in decreasing instead of expanding the sequence space accessible to client proteins, while also demonstrating that the host ER proteostasis network profoundly shapes the mutational tolerance of Env in ways that could have important consequences for HIV adaptation. 
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  4. Abstract

    Ecologists have long studied the evolution of niche breadth, including how variability in environments can drive the evolution of specialism and generalism. This concept is of particular interest in viruses, where niche breadth evolution may explain viral disease emergence, or underlie the potential for therapeutic measures like phage therapy. Despite the significance and potential applications of virus–host interactions, the genetic determinants of niche breadth evolution remain underexplored in many bacteriophages. In this study, we present the results of an evolution experiment with a model bacteriophage system,Escherichia virus T4,in several host environments: exposure toEscherichia coliC, exposure toE. coliK‐12, and exposure to bothE. coliC andE. coliK‐12. This experimental framework allowed us to investigate the phenotypic and molecular manifestations of niche breadth evolution. First, we show that selection on different hosts led to measurable changes in phage productivity in all experimental populations. Second, whole—genome sequencing of experimental populations revealed signatures of selection. Finally, clear and consistent patterns emerged across the host environments, especially the presence of new mutations in phage structural genes—genes encoding proteins that provide morphological and biophysical integrity to a virus. A comparison of mutations found across functional gene categories revealed that structural genes acquired significantly more mutations than other categories. Our findings suggest that structural genes are central determinants in bacteriophage niche breadth.

     
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  5. Abstract

    While reverse genetics and functional genomics have long affirmed the role of individual mutations in determining protein function, there have been fewer studies addressing how large‐scale changes in protein sequences, such as in entire modular segments, influence protein function and evolution. Given how recombination can reassort protein sequences, these types of changes may play an underappreciated role in how novel protein functions evolve in nature. Such studies could aid our understanding of whether certain organismal phenotypes related to protein function—such as growth in the presence or absence of an antibiotic—are robust with respect to the identity of certain modular segments. In this study, we combine molecular genetics with biochemical and biophysical methods to gain a better understanding of protein modularity in dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), an enzyme target of antibiotics also widely used as a model for protein evolution. We replace an integral α‐helical segment ofEscherichia coliDHFR with segments from a number of different organisms (many nonmicrobial) and examine how these chimeric enzymes affect organismal phenotypes (e.g., resistance to an antibiotic) as well as biophysical properties of the enzyme (e.g., thermostability). We find that organismal phenotypes and enzyme properties are highly sensitive to the identity of DHFR modules, and that this chimeric approach can create enzymes with diverse biophysical characteristics.

     
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