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Mol Biol Evol. 2014 Nov;31(11):3040-56. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu248. Epub 2014 Aug 25.

Positive selection during the evolution of the blood coagulation factors in the context of their disease-causing mutations.

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Department of Structural and Molecular Biology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Department of Structural and Molecular Biology, University College London, London, United Kingdom


Blood coagulation occurs through a cascade of enzymes and cofactors that produces a fibrin clot, while otherwise maintaining hemostasis. The 11 human coagulation factors (FG, FII-FXIII) have been identified across all vertebrates, suggesting that they emerged with the first vertebrates around 500 Ma. Human FVIII, FIX, and FXI are associated with thousands of disease-causing mutations. Here, we evaluated the strength of selective pressures on the 14 genes coding for the 11 factors during vertebrate evolution, and compared these with human mutations in FVIII, FIX, and FXI. Positive selection was identified for fibrinogen (FG), FIII, FVIII, FIX, and FX in the mammalian Primates and Laurasiatheria and the Sauropsida (reptiles and birds). This showed that the coagulation system in vertebrates was under strong selective pressures, perhaps to adapt against blood-invading pathogens. The comparison of these results with disease-causing mutations reported in FVIII, FIX, and FXI showed that the number of disease-causing mutations, and the probability of positive selection were inversely related to each other. It was concluded that when a site was under positive selection, it was less likely to be associated with disease-causing mutations. In contrast, sites under negative selection were more likely to be associated with disease-causing mutations and be destabilizing. A residue-by-residue comparison of the FVIII, FIX, and FXI sequence alignments confirmed this. This improved understanding of evolutionary changes in FVIII, FIX, and FXI provided greater insight into disease-causing mutations, and better assessments of the codon sites that may be mutated in applications of gene therapy.


coagulation; evolution; hemostasis; positive selection

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