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Mol Biol Evol. 2006 Oct;23(10):1852-62. Epub 2006 Jul 20.

Mutation-biased adaptation in a protein NK model.

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Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA.


Evolutionary trends responsible for systematic differences in genome and proteome composition have been attributed to GC:AT mutation bias in the context of neutral evolution or to selection acting on genome composition. A possibility that has been ignored, presumably because it is part of neither the Modern Synthesis nor the Neutral Theory, is that mutation may impose a directional bias on adaptation. This possibility is explored here with simulations of the effect of a GC:AT bias on amino acid composition during adaptive walks on an abstract protein fitness landscape called an "NK" model. The results indicate that adaptation does not preclude mutation-biased evolution. In the complete absence of neutral evolution, a modest GC:AT bias of realistic magnitude can displace the trajectory of adaptation in a mutationally favored direction, to such a degree that amino acid composition is biased substantially and persistently. Thus, mutational explanations for evolved patterns need not presuppose neutral evolution.

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