An evolutionary model for protein-coding regions with conserved RNA structure.

Entrez PubMed: "Here we present a model of nucleotide substitution in protein-coding regions that also encode the formation of conserved RNA structures. In such regions, apparent evolutionary context dependencies exist, both between nucleotides occupying the same codon and between nucleotides forming a base pair in the RNA structure. The overlap of these fundamental dependencies is sufficient to cause "contagious" context dependencies which cascade across many nucleotide sites. Such large-scale dependencies challenge the use of traditional phylogenetic models in evolutionary inference because they explicitly assume evolutionary independence between short nucleotide tuples. In our model we address this by replacing context dependencies within codons by annotation-specific heterogeneity in the substitution process. Through a general procedure, we fragment the alignment into sets of short nucleotide tuples based on both the protein coding and the structural annotation. These individual tuples are assumed to evolve independently, and the different tuple sets are assigned different annotation-specific substitution models shared between their members. This allows us to build a composite model of the substitution process from components of traditional phylogenetic models. We applied this to a data set of full-genome sequences from the hepatitis C virus where five RNA structures are mapped within the coding region. This allowed us to partition the effects of selection on different structural elements and to test various hypotheses concerning the relation of these effects. Of particular interest, we found evidence of a functional role of loop and bulge regions, as these were shown to evolve according to a different and more constrained selective regime than the nonpairing regions outside the RNA structures. Other potential applications of the model include comparative RNA structure prediction in coding regions and RNA virus phylogenetics."

An evolutionary model for protein-coding regions with conserved RNA structure. Pedersen JS, Forsberg R, Meyer IM, Hein J. Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Oct;21(10):1913-22. Epub 2004 Jun 30.
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1 Glossary:

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Taxonomies aim to group organisms according to shared characteristics against the background of biological diversity.

Phenetic system: groupings of organisms based on mutual similarity of phenotypic (physical and chemical) characteristics. Phenetic groupings may or may not correlate with evolutionary relationships.

Numerical Taxonomy: a common approach to phenetic taxonomy, which employs a number of phenotypic characteristics to generate similarity coefficients that may be mapped in dendrograms. Groupings based on numerical taxonomy may or may not correlate with evolutionary relationships.

Phylogenetic system: groups organisms based on shared evolutionary heritage. DNA and RNA sequencing techniques are considered to give the most meaningful phylogenies.

Monophyletic taxon or clade: an accurate grouping of only (opp. polyphyletic) and all (opp. paraphyletic) descendents of a shared common ancestor. A monopyletic group is genetically homogeneous and reflects evolutionary relationships.

Paraphyletic taxon: a monophyletic group that excludes one or more discrete groups descended from the most recent common ancestral species of the entire group. Other descendent species of the most recent common ancestor have been excluded from the paraphyletic taxon, usually because of morphologic distinctiveness.

Polyphyletic taxon: opposite to monophyletic taxon: A polyphyletic group is mistakenly or improperly erected on the basis of homoplasy.—characteristics that have arisen despite not sharing a common ancestor. Homoplasy arises because of convergent evolution, parallelism, evolutionary reversals, horizontal gene transfer, or gene duplications. Polyphyletic taxa are genetically heterogeneous because members do not share a common ancestor.

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