Bursts of amino acid replacements in protein evolution

Anastasia V. Stolyarova, Georgii A. Bazykin, Tatyana V. Neretina, Alexey S. Kondrashov

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Evolution can occur both gradually and through alternating episodes of stasis and rapid changes. However, the prevalence and magnitude of fluctuations of the rate of evolution remain obscure. Detecting a rapid burst of changes requires a detailed record of past evolution, so that events that occurred within a short time interval can be identified. Here, we use the phylogenies of the Baikal Lake amphipods and of Catarrhini, which contain very short internal edges which make this task feasible. We detect six salient bursts of evolution of individual proteins during such short time periods, each involving between six and 38 amino acid substitutions. These bursts were extremely unlikely to have occurred neutrally, and were apparently caused by positive selection. On average, in the course of a time interval required for one synonymous substitution per site, a protein undergoes a strong burst of rapid evolution with probability at least approximately 0.01.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number181095
    JournalRoyal Society Open Science
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


    • Adaptive walks
    • Positive selection
    • Punctuated equilibrium
    • Rate of evolution


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