Merging molecular mechanism and evolution: theory and computation at the interface of biophysics and evolutionary population genetics

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2014 Jun;26:84-91. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2014 Jun 19.


The variation among sequences and structures in nature is both determined by physical laws and by evolutionary history. However, these two factors are traditionally investigated by disciplines with different emphasis and philosophy-molecular biophysics on one hand and evolutionary population genetics in another. Here, we review recent theoretical and computational approaches that address the crucial need to integrate these two disciplines. We first articulate the elements of these approaches. Then, we survey their contribution to our mechanistic understanding of molecular evolution, the polymorphisms in coding region, the distribution of fitness effects (DFE) of mutations, the observed folding stability of proteins in nature, and the distribution of protein folds in genomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysics / methods*
  • Epistasis, Genetic
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetics, Population / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Folding