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Genetics. Apr 1998; 148(4): 1993–2002.
PMCID: PMC1460107

High apparent rate of simultaneous compensatory base-pair substitutions in ribosomal RNA.

Abstract

We present a model for the evolution of paired bases in RNA sequences. The new model allows for the instantaneous rate of substitution of both members of a base pair in a compensatory substitution (e.g., A-U-->G-C) and expands our previous work by allowing for unpaired bases or noncanonical pairs. We implemented the model with distance and maximum likelihood methods to estimate the rates of simultaneous substitution of both bases, alphad, vs. rates of substitution of individual bases, alphas in rRNA. In the rapidly evolving D2 expansion segments of Drosophila large subunit rRNA, we estimate a low ratio of alphad/alphas, indicating that most compensatory substitutions involve a G-U intermediate. In contrast, we find a surprisingly high ratio of alphad/alphas in the core small subunit rRNA, indicating that the evolution of the slowly evolving rRNA sequences is modeled much more accurately if simultaneous substitution of both members of a base pair is allowed to occur approximately as often as substitution of individual bases. Using simulations, we have ruled out several potential sources of error in the estimation of alphad/alphas. We conclude that in the core rRNA sequences compensatory substitutions can be fixed so rapidly as to appear to be instantaneous.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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