Evolutionary trends responsible for systematic differences in genome and proteome composition have been attributed to GC:AT mutation bias in the context of neutral evolution or to selection acting on genome composition. A possibility that has been ignored, presumably because it is part of neither the Modern Synthesis nor the Neutral Theory, is that mutation may impose a directional bias on adaptation. This possibility is explored here with simulations of the effect of a GC:AT bias on amino acid composition during adaptive walks on an abstract protein fitness landscape called an NK model. The results indicate that adaptation does not preclude mutation-biased evolution. In the complete absence of neutral evolution, a modest GC:AT bias of realistic magnitude can displace the trajectory of adaptation in a mutationally favored direction, to such a degree that amino acid composition is biased substantially and persistently. Thus, mutational explanations for evolved patterns need not presuppose neutral evolution.
Citation: Molecular Biology and Evolution
Pub Type: Journals
mutation bias, GC content, NK model, simulation, adaptive evolution, adaptive walk