What factors influence the rate and direction of protein evolution has occupied some of the best minds in biology ever since protein sequences began to be determined. Here, I will make a case that one of the most important factors to understand protein evolution is epistasis, the non-additive fitness effect of different substitutions. I will provide a conceptual description of how epistasis influences the rate and direction of evolution. Furthermore, I will show data on evolving proteins that we believe is best explained by a model that incorporates plenty of epistatic interactions. Finally, I will touch on the implications of the epistatic nature of protein evolution on our understanding of protein function and the study of human disease mutations.
Fyodor obtained his PhD from University of California at San Diego and moved to Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona to establish his Evolutionary Genomics Lab. Prior to his graduate training he worked for three years at the National Institutes of Health in the National Center for Biotechnology Information with Eugene Koonin.