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J Mol Evol. 2008 Oct;67(4):412-7. doi: 10.1007/s00239-008-9163-8. Epub 2008 Sep 23.

An evolutionary footprint of age-related natural selection in mitochondrial DNA.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH 44555, USA.


By comparing mtDNA sequences between different orders of mammals, we show that both longevity and generation time are significantly correlated with the nucleotide content of the mtDNA. Specifically, there is a positive correlation between generation time and mt GC content. This correlation is repeated, at a finer evolutionary scale, within the primates. Moreover, a comparison of human and chimpanzee mtDNAs shows that the effect has been very pronounced during the short evolutionary period since the divergence of these two species, with human mtDNA showing a GC-biased pattern of substitution at the variable sites. In addition to these DNA sequence patterns, comparisons between the human and the chimp mt protein sequences also revealed a surprisingly high substitution rate for threonine residues, resulting in a reduction of threonine in the human mt proteome. These patterns of both DNA and protein evolution can be explained by a balance between AT-biased mutational pressure and age-related purifying selection.

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