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A screen for fast evolving genes from Drosophila

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Schmid, K. J., & Tautz, D. (1997). A screen for fast evolving genes from Drosophila. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 94(18), 9746-9750. doi:10.1073/pnas.94.18.9746.

In an attempt to quantify the rates of protein sequence divergence in Drosophila, we have devised a screen to differentiate between slow and fast evolving genes. We find that over one-third of randomly drawn cDNAs from a Drosophila melanogaster library do not cross-hybridize with Drosophila virilis DNA, indicating that they evolve with a very high rate, To determine the evolutionary characteristics of such protein sequences, we sequenced their homologs from a more closely related species (Drosophila yakuba), The amino acid substitution rates among these cDNAs are among the fastest known and several are only about 2-fold lower than the corresponding values for silent substitutions, An analysis of within-species polymorphisms for one of these sequences reveals an exceptionally high number of polymorphic amino acid positions, indicating that the protein is not under strong negative selection. We conclude that the Drosophila genome harbors a substantial proportion of genes with a very high divergence rate.