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Compensated Deleterious Mutations in Insect Genomes

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Science  26 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5701, pp. 1553-1554
DOI: 10.1126/science.1100522

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Abstract

Relatively little is known about the importance of amino acid interactions in protein and phenotypic evolution. Here we examine whether mutations that are pathogenic in Drosophila melanogaster become fixed via epistasis in other Dipteran genomes. Overall divergence at pathogenic amino acid sites is reduced. However, ∼10% of the substitutions at these sites carry the exact same pathogenic amino acid found in D. melanogaster mutants. Hence compensatory mutation(s) must have evolved. Surprisingly, the fraction 10% is not affected by phylogenetic distance. These results support a selection-driven process that allows compensated amino acid substitutions to become rapidly fixed in taxa with large populations.

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