Propensities for different amino acids within a protein site change in the course of evolution, so that an amino acid deleterious in a particular species may be acceptable at the same site in a different species. Here, we study the amino acid-changing variants in human mitochondrial genes, and analyze their occurrence in non-human species. We show that substitutions giving rise to such variants tend to occur in lineages closely related to human more frequently than in more distantly related lineages, indicating that a human variant is more likely to be deleterious in more distant species. Unexpectedly, substitutions giving rise to amino acids that correspond to alleles pathogenic in humans also more frequently occur in more closely related lineages. Therefore, a pathogenic variant still tends to be more acceptable in human mitochondria than a variant that may only be fit after a substantial perturbation of the protein structure.
- Fitness landscape
- Pathogenic mutations