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Mol Biol Evol. 2006 Jun;23(6):1101-3. Epub 2006 Mar 14.

Adaptive protein evolution and regulatory divergence in Drosophila.


Two recent studies demonstrated a positive correlation between divergence in gene expression and protein sequence in Drosophila. This correlation could be driven by positive selection or variation in functional constraint. To distinguish between these alternatives, we compared patterns of molecular evolution for 1,862 genes with two previously reported estimates of expression divergence in Drosophila. We found a slight negative trend (nonsignificant) between positive selection on protein sequence and divergence in expression levels between Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans. Conversely, shifts in expression patterns during Drosophila development showed a positive association with adaptive protein evolution, though as before the relationship was weak and not significant. Overall, we found no strong evidence for an increase in the incidence of positive selection on protein-coding regions in genes with divergent expression in Drosophila, suggesting that the previously reported positive association between protein and regulatory divergence primarily reflects variation in functional constraint.

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