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Proteomics. 2005 Jun;5(9):2280-4.

Gene products with evolutionary functions.

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Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.


It is often tacitly assumed that all gene products serve the needs of life functions of the individual carrying the genome. However, a close look at the formation of genetic variations, which are the drivers of biological evolution, reveals a different view. While a majority of the products of genes, such as housekeeping genes and genes essential for each individual, when exposed to particular life conditions respond to the definition given above, other gene products clearly carry out evolutionary functions at the level of populations. Products of these evolution genes act as generators of genetic variations and/or as modulators of the frequency of genetic variation. This is most readily seen with bacterial populations. Many different mechanisms contribute to the occasional, overall formation of genetic variations. These mechanisms can be grouped into three mechanistically and qualitatively different strategies of generating genetic variations. In addition to the activities of evolution genes, specific properties of matter such as tautomery also contribute to the formation of genetic variations. The views that nature cares actively for biological evolution are documented by evidence taken mainly from microbial genetics. Essential elements of the theory of molecular evolution are discussed, as well as the relevance of this theory for higher organisms and its impact on our worldview.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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