213Statistical analysis of protein sequences indicates an architecture for natural proteins in which amino acids are engaged in a sparse, hierarchical pattern of interactions in the tertiary structure. This architecture might be a key and distinguishing feature of evolved proteins—a design principle providing not only for foldability and high-performance function but also for robustness to perturbation and the capacity for rapid adaptation to new selection pressures. Here, we describe an approach for systematically testing this design principle for natural-like proteins by (1) computational design of synthetic sequences that gradually add or remove constraints along the hierarchy of interacting residues and (2) experimental testing of the designed sequences for folding and bio-chemical function. By this process, we hope to understand how the constraints on fold, function, and other aspects of fitness are organized within natural proteins, a first step i

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