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Mol Biol Evol. 2014 Jan;31(1):165-76. doi: 10.1093/molbev/mst189. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

Contribution of selection for protein folding stability in shaping the patterns of polymorphisms in coding regions.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University.


The patterns of polymorphisms in genomes are imprints of the evolutionary forces at play in nature. In particular, polymorphisms have been extensively used to infer the fitness effects of mutations and their dynamics of fixation. However, the role and contribution of molecular biophysics to these observations remain unclear. Here, we couple robust findings from protein biophysics, enzymatic flux theory, the selection against the cytotoxic effects of protein misfolding, and explicit population dynamics simulations in the polyclonal regime. First, we recapitulate results on the dynamics of clonal interference and on the shape of the DFE, thus providing them with a molecular and mechanistic foundation. Second, we predict that if evolution is indeed under the dynamic equilibrium of mutation-selection balance, the fraction of stabilizing and destabilizing mutations is almost equal among single-nucleotide polymorphisms segregating at high allele frequencies. This prediction is proven true for polymorphisms in the human coding region. Overall, our results show how selection for protein folding stability predominantly shapes the patterns of polymorphisms in coding regions.


DFE; SNPs; clonal interference; polymorphism; protein folding stability

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