Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jan 18;108(3):1082-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012918108. Epub 2011 Jan 3.

Evolution of molecular error rates and the consequences for evolvability.

Author information

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


Making genes into gene products is subject to predictable errors, each with a phenotypic effect that depends on a normally cryptic sequence. Many cryptic sequences have strongly deleterious effects, for example when they cause protein misfolding. Strongly deleterious effects can be avoided globally by avoiding making errors (e.g., via proofreading machinery) or locally by ensuring that each error has a relatively benign effect. The local solution requires powerful selection acting on every cryptic site and so evolves only in large populations. Small populations with less effective selection evolve global solutions. Here we show that for a large range of realistic intermediate population sizes, the evolutionary dynamics are bistable and either solution may result. The local solution facilitates the genetic assimilation of cryptic genetic variation and therefore substantially increases evolvability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center