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Genetics. May 1999; 152(1): 269–280.
PMCID: PMC1460604

Synonymous rates at the RpII215 gene of Drosophila: variation among species and across the coding region.


The region encompassing the RpII215 gene that encodes the largest component of the RNA polymerase II complex (1889 amino acids) has been sequenced in Drosophila subobscura, D. madeirensis, D. guanche, and D. pseudoobscura. Nonsynonymous divergence estimates (Ka) indicate that this gene has a very low rate of amino acid replacements. Given its low Ka and constitutive expression, synonymous substitution rates are, however, unexpectedly high. Sequence comparisons have allowed the molecular clock hypothesis to be tested. D. guanche is an insular species and it is therefore expected to have a reduced effective size relative to D. subobscura. The significantly higher rate of synonymous substitutions detected in the D. guanche lineage could be explained if synonymous mutations behave as nearly neutral. Significant departure from the molecular clock hypothesis for synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions was detected when comparing the D. subobscura, D. pseudoobscura, and D. melanogaster lineages. Codon bias and synonymous divergence between D. subobscura and D. melanogaster were negatively correlated across the RpII215 coding region, which indicates that selection coefficients for synonymous mutations vary across the gene. The C-terminal domain (CTD) of the RpII215 protein is structurally and functionally differentiated from the rest of the protein. Synonymous substitution rates were significantly different in both regions, which strongly indicates that synonymous mutations in the CTD and in the non-CTD regions are under detectably different selection coefficients.

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Selected References

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