Journal Article


Mario A Fares
Mario X Ruiz-González
Christina Toft
Beatriz Sabater-Muñoz
David Alvarez-Ponce



protein expression proteins experiments escherichia coli mutation rates of evolution essentiality neutral theory of molecular evolution protein

Essentiality Is a Strong Determinant of Protein Rates of Evolution during Mutation Accumulation Experiments in Escherichia coli. (2016)

Abstract The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution is considered the most powerful theory to understand the evolutionary behavior of proteins. One of the main predictions of this theory is that essential proteins should evolve slower than dispensable ones owing to increased selective constraints. Comparison of genomes of different species, however, have revealed only small differences between the rates of evolution of essential and non-essential proteins. In some analyses, these differences vanish once confounding factors are controlled for, whereas in other cases essentiality seems to have an independent, albeit small, effect. It has been argued that comparing relatively distant genomes may entail a number of limitations. For instance, many of the genes that are dispensable in controlled lab conditions may be essential in some of the conditions faced in nature. Moreover, essentiality can change during evolution, and rates of protein evolution are simultaneously shaped by a variety of factors, whose individual effects are difficult to isolate. Here, we conducted two parallel mutation accumulation experiments in Escherichia coli, during 5500-5750 generations, and compared the genomes at different points of the experiments. Our approach (a short-term experiment, under highly controlled conditions) enabled us to overcome many of the limitations of previous studies. We observed that essential proteins evolved substantially slower than non-essential ones during our experiments. Strikingly, rates of protein evolution were only moderately affected by expression level and protein length.
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Full list of authors on original publication

Mario A Fares, Mario X Ruiz-González, Christina Toft, Beatriz Sabater-Muñoz, David Alvarez-Ponce

Experts in our system

Mario Ali Fares
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 43
Christina Toft
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 6
Beatriz Sabater-Muñoz
Trinity College Dublin
Total Publications: 3