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Genetics. 1999 Dec;153(4):1717-29.

Large number of replacement polymorphisms in rapidly evolving genes of Drosophila. Implications for genome-wide surveys of DNA polymorphism.

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Zoologisches Institut, Universität München, 80333 München, Germany.


We present a survey of nucleotide polymorphism of three novel, rapidly evolving genes in populations of Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans. Levels of silent polymorphism are comparable to other loci, but the number of replacement polymorphisms is higher than that in most other genes surveyed in D. melanogaster and D. simulans. Tests of neutrality fail to reject neutral evolution with one exception. This concerns a gene located in a region of high recombination rate in D. simulans and in a region of low recombination rate in D. melanogaster, due to an inversion. In the latter case it shows a very low number of polymorphisms, presumably due to selective sweeps in the region. Patterns of nucleotide polymorphism suggest that most substitutions are neutral or nearly neutral and that weak (positive and purifying) selection plays a significant role in the evolution of these genes. At all three loci, purifying selection of slightly deleterious replacement mutations appears to be more efficient in D. simulans than in D. melanogaster, presumably due to different effective population sizes. Our analysis suggests that current knowledge about genome-wide patterns of nucleotide polymorphism is far from complete with respect to the types and range of nucleotide substitutions and that further analysis of differences between local populations will be required to understand the forces more completely. We note that rapidly diverging and nearly neutrally evolving genes cannot be expected only in the genome of Drosophila, but are likely to occur in large numbers also in other organisms and that their function and evolution are little understood so far.

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