A dissection of volatility in yeast

Stoletzki N, Welch JJ, Hermisson J & Eyre-Walker A

(2005) Mol Biol Evol 22, 2022-2026.

It has been suggested that volatility, the proportion of mutations which change an amino acid, can be used to infer the level of natural selection acting upon a gene. This conjecture is supported by a correlation between volatility and the rate of nonsynonymous substitution (dN), or the ratio of nonsynonymous and synonymous substitution rates, in a variety of organisms. These organisms include yeast, in which the correlations are quite strong. Here we show that these correlations are a by-product of a correlation between synonymous codon bias toward translationally optimal codons and dN. Although this analysis suggests that volatility is not a good measure of the selection, we suggest that it might be possible to infer something about the level of natural selection, from a single genome sequence, using translational codon bias.

Andrew Rambaut, 2007