Recent selection on synonymous codon usage in Drosophila

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Evidence from a variety of sources indicates that selection has influenced synonymous codon usage in Drosophila. It has generally been difficult, however, to distinguish selection that acted in the distant past from ongoing selection. However, under a neutral model, polymorphisms usually reflect more recent mutations than fixed differences between species and may, therefore, be useful for inferring recent selection. If the ancestral state is preferred, selection should shift the frequency distribution of derived states/site toward lower values; if the ancestral is unpreferred, selection should increase the number of derived states/site. Polymorphisms were classified as ancestrally preferred or unpreferred for several genes of D. simulans and D. melanogaster. A computer simulation of coalescence was employed to derive the expected frequency distributions of derived states/site under various modifications of the Wright-Fisher neutral model, and distributions of test statistics (t and Mann-Whitney U) were derived by appropriate sampling. One-tailed tests were applied to transformed frequency data to assess whether the two frequency distributions deviated from neutral expectations in the direction predicted by selection on codon usage. Several genes from D. simulans appear to be subject to recent selection on synonymous codons, including one gene with low codon bias, esterase-6. Selection may also be acting in D. melanogaster.

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Journal of Molecular Evolution

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