Abstract. Protein engineering by combinatorial site-directed mutagenesis evaluates a portion of the sequence space near a target protein, seeking variants with improved properties (stability, activity, immunogenicity, etc.). In order to improve the hit-rate of beneficial variants in such mutagenesis libraries, we develop methods to select optimal positions and corresponding sets of the mutations that will be used, in all combinations, in constructing a library for experimental evaluation. Our approach, OCoM (Optimization of Combinatorial Mutagenesis), encompasses both degenerate oligonucleotides and specified point mutations, and can be directed accordingly by requirements of experimental cost and library size. It evaluates the quality of the resulting library by oneand two-body sequence potentials, averaged over the variants. To ensure that it is not simply recapitulating extant sequences, it balances the quality of a library with an explicit evaluation of the novelty of its members. We show that, despite dealing with a combinatorial set of variants, i
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