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Genetics. 2003 Feb;163(2):723-33.

Selection on rapidly evolving proteins in the Arabidopsis genome.

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Department of Genetics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA.


Genes that have undergone positive or diversifying selection are likely to be associated with adaptive divergence between species. One indicator of adaptive selection at the molecular level is an excess of amino acid replacement fixed differences per replacement site relative to the number of synonymous fixed differences per synonymous site (omega = K(a)/K(s)). We used an evolutionary expressed sequence tag (EST) approach to estimate the distribution of omega among 304 orthologous loci between Arabidopsis thaliana and A. lyrata to identify genes potentially involved in the adaptive divergence between these two Brassicaceae species. We find that 14 of 304 genes (approximately 5%) have an estimated omega > 1 and are candidates for genes with increased selection intensities. Molecular population genetic analyses of 6 of these rapidly evolving protein loci indicate that, despite their high levels of between-species nonsynonymous divergence, these genes do not have elevated levels of intraspecific replacement polymorphisms compared to previously studied genes. A hierarchical Bayesian analysis of protein-coding region evolution within and between species also indicates that the selection intensities of these genes are elevated compared to previously studied A. thaliana nuclear loci.

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