Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Nat Rev Genet. 2016 April ; 17(4): pp. 239–250. doi:10.1038/nrg.2016.11.


HHS Public Access


To what extent is the convergent evolution of protein function attributable to convergent or parallel changes at the amino acid level? The mutations that contribute to adaptive protein evolution may represent a biased subset of all possible beneficial mutations owing to mutation bias and/or variation in the magnitude of deleterious pleiotropy. A key finding is that the fitness effects of amino acid mutations are often conditional on genetic background. This context dependence (epistasis) can reduce the probability of convergence and parallelism because it reduces the number of possible mutations that are unconditionally acceptable in divergent genetic backgrounds. Here, I review factors that influence the probability of replicated evolution at the molecular level.