Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Mol Biol Evol. 1999 Oct;16(10):1315-28.

A method for detecting positive selection at single amino acid sites.

Author information

Center for Information Biology, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Japan.


A method was developed for detecting the selective force at single amino acid sites given a multiple alignment of protein-coding sequences. The phylogenetic tree was reconstructed using the number of synonymous substitutions. Then, the neutrality was tested for each codon site using the numbers of synonymous and nonsynonymous changes throughout the phylogenetic tree. Computer simulation showed that this method accurately estimated the numbers of synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions per site, as long as the substitution number on each branch was relatively small. The false-positive rate for detecting the selective force was generally low. On the other hand, the true-positive rate for detecting the selective force depended on the parameter values. Within the range of parameter values used in the simulation, the true-positive rate increased as the strength of the selective force and the total branch length (namely the total number of synonymous substitutions per site) in the phylogenetic tree increased. In particular, with the relative rate of nonsynonymous substitutions to synonymous substitutions being 5.0, most of the positively selected codon sites were correctly detected when the total branch length in the phylogenetic tree was > or = 2.5. When this method was applied to the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene, which included antigen recognition sites (ARSs), positive selection was detected mainly on ARSs. This finding confirmed the effectiveness of the present method with actual data. Moreover, two amino acid sites were newly identified as positively selected in non-ARSs. The three-dimensional structure of the HLA molecule indicated that these sites might be involved in antigen recognition. Positively selected amino acid sites were also identified in the envelope protein of human immunodeficiency virus and the influenza virus hemagglutinin protein. This method may be helpful for predicting functions of amino acid sites in proteins, especially in the present situation, in which sequence data are accumulating at an enormous speed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center