Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Biol Evol. 2007 Oct;24(10):2235-41. Epub 2007 Jul 25.

The nonsynonymous/synonymous substitution rate ratio versus the radical/conservative replacement rate ratio in the evolution of mammalian genes.

Author information

Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, USA.


There are 2 ways to infer selection pressures in the evolution of protein-coding genes, the nonsynonymous and synonymous substitution rate ratio (K(A)/K(S)) and the radical and conservative amino acid replacement rate ratio (K(R)/K(C)). Because the K(R)/K(C) ratio depends on the definition of radical and conservative changes in the classification of amino acids, we develop an amino acid classification that maximizes the correlation between K(A)/K(S) and K(R)/K(C). An analysis of 3,375 orthologous gene groups among 5 mammalian species shows that our classification gives a significantly higher correlation coefficient between the 2 ratios than those of existing classifications. However, there are many orthologous gene groups with a low K(A)/K(S) but a high K(R)/K(C) ratio. Examining the functions of these genes, we found an overrepresentation of functional categories related to development. To determine if the overrepresentation is stage specific, we examined the expression patterns of these genes at different developmental stages of the mouse. Interestingly, these genes are highly expressed in the early middle stage of development (blastocyst to amnion). It is commonly thought that developmental genes tend to be conservative in evolution, but some molecular changes in developmental stages should have contributed to morphological divergence in adult mammals. Therefore, we propose that the relaxed pressures indicated by the K(R)/K(C) ratio but not by K(A)/K(S) in the early middle stage of development may be important for the morphological divergence of mammals at the adult stage, whereas purifying selection detected by K(A)/K(S) occurs in the early middle developmental stage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center