Not satisfied with nature’s vast enzyme repertoire, we
want to create new ones and expand the space of genetically encoded enzyme
functions. I will describe how we can use the most powerful biological design
process, evolution, to optimize existing enzymes and invent new ones, thereby
circumventing our profound ignorance of how sequence encodes function.
Mimicking nature’s evolutionary tricks and using a little chemical intuition,
we can generate whole new enzyme families that catalyze important reactions,
including ones not known in biology. These new chemical capabilities increase
the scope of molecules and materials we can build using synthetic biology.