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Nat Genet. 2007 Apr;39(4):555-60. Epub 2007 Mar 18.

Distributions of epistasis in microbes fit predictions from a fitness landscape model.

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  • 1Centre d'√©cologie fonctionnelle et √©volutive-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique UMR 5175, 1919 Route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier, France. guillaume.martin@unil.ch

Abstract

How do the fitness effects of several mutations combine? Despite its simplicity, this question is central to the understanding of multilocus evolution. Epistasis (the interaction between alleles at different loci), especially epistasis for fitness traits such as reproduction and survival, influences evolutionary predictions "almost whenever multilocus genetics matters". Yet very few models have sought to predict epistasis, and none has been empirically tested. Here we show that the distribution of epistasis can be predicted from the distribution of single mutation effects, based on a simple fitness landscape model. We show that this prediction closely matches the empirical measures of epistasis that have been obtained for Escherichia coli and the RNA virus vesicular stomatitis virus. Our results suggest that a simple fitness landscape model may be sufficient to quantitatively capture the complex nature of gene interactions. This model may offer a simple and widely applicable alternative to complex metabolic network models, in particular for making evolutionary predictions.

PMID:
17369829
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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