Metabolite-Enzyme Coevolution: From Single Enzymes to Metabolic Pathways and Networks

Lianet Noda-Garcia, Wolfram Liebermeister, Dan S. Tawfik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


How individual enzymes evolved is relatively well understood. However, individual enzymes rarely confer a physiological advantage on their own. Judging by its current state, the emergence of metabolism seemingly demanded the simultaneous emergence of many enzymes. Indeed, how multicomponent interlocked systems, like metabolic pathways, evolved is largely an open question. This complexity can be unlocked if we assume that survival of the fittest applies not only to genes and enzymes but also to the metabolites they produce. This review develops our current knowledge of enzyme evolution into a wider hypothesis of pathway and network evolution. We describe the current models for pathway evolution and offer an integrative metabolite-enzyme coevolution hypothesis. Our hypothesis addresses the origins of new metabolites and of new enzymes and the order of their recruitment. We aim to not only survey established knowledge but also present open questions and potential ways of addressing them.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)187-216
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Biochemistry
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


  • coevolution
  • enzyme evolution
  • evolutionary biochemistry
  • metabolism
  • pathway evolution
  • promiscuity


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