Consequences of Stability-Induced Epistasis for Substitution Rates.

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Consequences of Stability-Induced Epistasis for Substitution Rates.

Mol Biol Evol. 2020 Sep 08;:

Authors: Youssef N, Susko E, Bielawski JP

Do interactions between residues in a protein (i.e., epistasis) significantly alter evolutionary dynamics? If so, what consequences might they have on inference from traditional codon substitution models which assume site-independence for the sake of computational tractability? To investigate the effects of epistasis on substitution rates, we employed a mechanistic mutation-selection model in conjunction with a fitness framework derived from protein stability. We refer to this as the stability-informed site-dependent (S-SD) model and developed a new stability-informed site-independent (S-SI) model that captures the average effect of stability constraints on individual sites of a protein. Comparison of S-SI and S-SD offers a novel and direct method for investigating the consequences of stability-induced epistasis on protein evolution. We developed S-SI and S-SD models for three natural proteins and showed that they generate sequences consistent with real alignments. Our analyses revealed that epistasis tends to increase substitution rates compared with the rates under site-independent evolution. We then assessed the epistatic sensitivity of individual site and discovered a counterintuitive effect: Highly connected sites were less influenced by epistasis relative to exposed sites. Lastly, we show that, despite the unrealistic assumptions, traditional models perform comparably well in the presence and absence of epistasis and provide reasonable summaries of average selection intensities. We conclude that epistatic models are critical to understanding protein evolutionary dynamics, but epistasis might not be required for reasonable inference of selection pressure when averaging over time and sites.

PMID: 32897316 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]