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Evol Bioinform Online. 2007 Feb 14;3:1-13.

Identification of conflicting selective effects on highly expressed genes.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M1.


Many different selective effects on DNA and proteins influence the frequency of codons and amino acids in coding sequences. Selection is often stronger on highly expressed genes. Hence, by comparing high- and low-expression genes it is possible to distinguish the factors that are selected by evolution. It has been proposed that highly expressed genes should (i) preferentially use codons matching abundant tRNAs (translational efficiency), (ii) preferentially use amino acids with low cost of synthesis, (iii) be under stronger selection to maintain the required amino acid content, and (iv) be selected for translational robustness. These effects act simultaneously and can be contradictory. We develop a model that combines these factors, and use Akaike's Information Criterion for model selection. We consider pairs of paralogues that arose by whole-genome duplication in Saccharmyces cerevisiae. A codon-based model is used that includes asymmetric effects due to selection on highly expressed genes. The largest effect is translational efficiency, which is found to strongly influence synonymous, but not non-synonymous rates. Minimization of the cost of amino acid synthesis is implicated. However, when a more general measure of selection for amino acid usage is used, the cost minimization effect becomes redundant. Small effects that we attribute to selection for translational robustness can be identified as an improvement in the model fit on top of the effects of translational efficiency and amino acid usage.


Amino Acid Usage; Codon Usage; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Translational efficiency; Translational robustness


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