Roman Sloutsky develops a new approach for reconstructing protein evolution

Roman Sloutsky, a postdoc in the Stratton Lab, recently published a paper in eLife describing a new, more accurate way to trace how proteins have diverged over time. Most proteins belong to families that descended from a common ancestor, but trying to reconstruct that genetic divergence from the very beginning is incredibly difficult. Roman and his former advisor decided to use a more recent ancestor with a known-sequence, simulating a series of amino acid substitutions to arrive at a more narrow collection of realistic protein sequences. Scientists use information about the evolution of proteins to design experiments and interpret their findings, so having an accurate idea of a protein’s evolutionary history has a substantial impact on the validity of their experiments.