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Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Mar;22(3):542-6. Epub 2004 Nov 3.

Codon volatility as an indicator of positive selection: data from eukaryotic genome comparisons.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA.

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  • Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Apr;22(4):1158.


It has been suggested that codon volatility (the proportion of the point-mutation neighbors of a codon that encode different amino acids) can be used as an index of past positive selection. We compared codon volatility with patterns of synonymous and nonsynonymous nucleotide substitution in genome-wide comparisons of orthologous genes between three pairs of related genomes: (1) the protists Plasmodium falciparum and P. yoelii, (2) the fungi Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. paradoxus, and (3) the mammals mouse and rat. Codon volatility was not consistently associated with an elevated rate of nonsynonymous substitution, as would be expected under positive selection. Rather, the most consistent and powerful correlate of elevated codon volatility was nucleotide content at the second codon position, as expected, given the nature of the genetic code.

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