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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Aug 15;90(16):7475-9.

Evidence for adaptive evolution of the G6pd gene in the Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans lineages.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794.


Proponents of the neutral theory argue that evolution at the molecular level largely reflects a process of random genetic drift of neutral mutations. Under this theory, levels of interspecific divergence and intraspecific polymorphism are expected to be correlated across classes of nucleotide or amino acid sequences with different degrees of functional constraint, such as synonymous and replacement sites. Nucleotide sites with reduced polymorphism should show comparably reduced levels of interspecific divergence. To examine this hypothesis, we have sequenced 32 and 12 copies of the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6pd) gene in Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans, respectively. Both species exhibit similar levels of nucleotide polymorphism at synonymous sites. D. melanogaster shows two amino acid polymorphisms, one associated with the cosmopolitan allozyme polymorphism and a second with an allozyme polymorphism endemic to European and North African populations. In contrast, D. simulans shows no replacement polymorphism. While synonymous divergence between species is 10%, which is typical of other genes, there are 21 replacement differences. This level of amino acid sequence divergence, when contrasted with levels of amino acid polymorphism, silent polymorphism, and divergence, is in 10-fold excess over that expected under the neutral model of molecular evolution. We propose that this excess divergence reflects episodes of natural selection on G6pd resulting in fixation of advantageous amino acid mutations in these two recently separated lineages.

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