Book of Abstracts: Albany 2007

category image Albany 2007
Conversation 15
June 19-23 2007

Directed Mutations in Evolution: Linking Theory, Computation, and Experiments Using RNA Sequences as a Model

The subject of directed mutations in evolutionary theory, starting with experiments in E. coli conducted during the 1980's (1, 7), has opened the door to an ongoing debate about the nature of mutations. Traditional Darwinian thinking states that mutations occur at random regardless of fitness consequences to the resulting mutants. In contrast, the alternative hypothesis to the random mutation hypothesis states that mutations are likely to occur when the environment favors the survival of the resulting mutants. Our research attempts to identify directed mutations in Bacillus subtilis strains collected from the xeric, "African", south-facing slope (SFS) vs. the mesic, "European", north-facing slope (NFS) in "Evolution Canyon" III at Nahal Shaharut in Israel (5, 8). Using computational methods (2) and experimental methods similar to (4) at the transcription termination level of riboswitches (3, 6), which are RNA-based regulatory mechanisms believed to be of ancient origin in the evolutionary time scale, we are examining the environmental effect on functional RNA sequences by analyzing the mutants collected from opposite slopes of "Evolution Canyon" III.


The research was supported by a grant from the Israel USA Binational Science Foundation BSF 2004291. D.B. appreciates the support of the Lynn and William Frankel Center for Computer Sciences.

References and Footnotes
  1. Cairns, J., Overbaugh, J. and Miller, S. Nature 335, 142-145 (1988).
  2. Churkin, A. and Barash, D. BMC Bioinformatics 7, 221 (2006).
  3. Mandal, M. and Breaker, R.R. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 5, 451-463 (2004).
  4. Mironov, A. S., Gusarov, I., Rafikov, R., Lopez, L. E., Shatalin, K., Kreneva, R. A., Perumov, D. A. and Nudler E. Cell 111,747-56 (2002).
  5. Nevo, E. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 98, 6233-6240 (2001).
  6. Nudler, E. and Mironov, A. S. Trends in Biochem. Sci. 29, 11-17 (2004).
  7. Shapiro, J. A. Gen. Genet. 194, 79-90 (1984).
  8. Sikorski, J. and Nevo, E. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 102, 15924-15929 (2005).

Danny Barash1,2,*
Johannes Sikorski1
Elizabeth Perry3
Eviatar Nevo1
Evgeny Nudler4

1Institute of Evolution
University of Haifa
Mount Carmel
Haifa 31905, Israel
2Department of Computer Science
Ben-Gurion University
Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
3Department of Biology
Wesleyan University
Middletown 06459, CT, USA
4Department of Biochemistry
NYU Medical School
New York 10016, NY, USA

*Phone: 972-8-6472714
Fax: 972-8-6477650