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Publication type: Journal Article
Document type: Full Paper

Year: 2019

Author(s): Bergman, J; Eyre-Walker, A

Title: Does Adaptive Protein Evolution Proceed by Large or Small Steps at the Amino Acid Level?

Source: Mol Biol Evol. 2019; 36(5):990-998

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Bergman Juraj

Vetmed Research Units
Institute of Population Genetics

Project(s): Population Genetics

A long-standing question in evolutionary biology is the relative contribution of large and small effect mutations to the adaptive process. We have investigated this question in proteins by estimating the rate of adaptive evolution between all pairs of amino acids separated by one mutational step using a McDonald-Kreitman type approach and genome-wide data from several Drosophila species. We find that the rate of adaptive evolution is highest among amino acids that are more similar. This is partly due to the fact that the proportion of mutations that are adaptive is higher among more similar amino acids. We also find that the rate of neutral evolution between amino acids is higher among more similar amino acids. Overall our results suggest that both the adaptive and nonadaptive evolution of proteins are dominated by substitutions between similar amino acids.

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