Pleiotropy and the Preservation of Perfection

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Science  20 Feb 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5354, pp. 1210-1213
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5354.1210

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A mathematical model is presented in which a single mutation can affect multiple phenotypic characters, each of which is subject to stabilizing selection. A wide range of mutations is allowed, including ones that produce extremely small phenotypic changes. The analysis shows that, when three or more characters are affected by each mutation, a single optimal genetic sequence may become common. This result provides a hypothesis to explain the low levels of variation and low rates of substitution that are observed at some loci.

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