Dobzhansky-Muller Incompatibilities in Protein Evolution

TitleDobzhansky-Muller Incompatibilities in Protein Evolution
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsKondrashov AS, Sunyaev S, Kondrashov FA
JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A

We study fitness landscape in the space of protein sequences by relating sets of human pathogenic missense mutations in 32 proteins to amino acid substitutions that occurred in the course of evolution of these proteins. On average, approximately 10% of deviations of a nonhuman protein from its human ortholog are compensated pathogenic deviations (CPDs), i.e., are caused by an amino acid substitution that, at this site, would be pathogenic to humans. Normal functioning of a CPD-containing protein must be caused by other, compensatory deviations of the nonhuman species from humans. Together, a CPD and the corresponding compensatory deviation form a Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibility that can be visualized as the corner on a fitness ridge. Thus, proteins evolve along fitness ridges which contain only approximately 10 steps between successive corners. The fraction of CPDs among all deviations of a protein from its human ortholog does not increase with the evolutionary distance between the proteins, indicating that substitutions that carry evolving proteins around these corners occur in rapid succession, driven by positive selection. Data on fitness of interspecies hybrids suggest that the compensatory change that makes a CPD fit usually occurs within the same protein. Data on protein structures and on cooccurrence of amino acids at different sites of multiple orthologous proteins often make it possible to provisionally identify the substitution that compensates a particular CPD.