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Mol Biol Evol. 1995 Nov;12(6):1138-50.

Compensatory substitutions and the evolution of the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene in mammals.

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Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside 92521, USA.


12S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene sequences from a suite of mammalian taxa (13 placentals, 4 marsupials, 1 monotreme), for which phylogenetic relationships are well established based on independent criteria, were employed to study the evolution of this gene. Phylogenetic analysis of 12S sequences produces a phylogeny that agrees with expectations. Base composition provides evidence for directional symmetrical substitution pressure in loops; in stems, base composition is much more even. Rates of nucleotide substitution are lower in stems than loops. Patterns of nucleotide substitution show an overall preference for transitions over transversions, with this difference more profound in stems than loops. Among different transversion pathways, there is a wide range of transformation frequencies. An analysis of compensatory substitutions shows that there is strong evidence for their occurrence and that a weighting factor of 0.61 should be applied in phylogenetic analyses to account for the dependence of mutations at stem positions relative to positions where changes are independent. Among stem variables (i.e., stem length, interaction distance, substitution rates, G+C content, and the percentage of bases that are paired), several significant correlations were discovered, but stem length and interaction distance are uncorrelated with other variables.

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