Joshua B. Plotkin

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Synonymous mutations do not alter the encoded protein, but they can influence gene expression. To investigate how, we engineered a synthetic library of 154 genes that varied randomly at synonymous sites, but all encoded the same green fluorescent protein (GFP). When expressed in Escherichia coli, GFP protein levels varied 250-fold across the library. GFP(More)
Despite their name, synonymous mutations have significant consequences for cellular processes in all taxa. As a result, an understanding of codon bias is central to fields as diverse as molecular evolution and biotechnology. Although recent advances in sequencing and synthetic biology have helped to resolve longstanding questions about codon bias, they have(More)
Evolutionary pressures on proteins are often quantified by the ratio of substitution rates at non-synonymous and synonymous sites. The dN/dS ratio was originally developed for application to distantly diverged sequences, the differences among which represent substitutions that have fixed along independent lineages. Nevertheless, the dN/dS measure is often(More)
Influenza incidence exhibits strong seasonal fluctuations in temperate regions throughout the world, concentrating the mortality and morbidity burden of the disease into a few months each year. The cause of influenza's seasonality has remained elusive. Here we show that the large oscillations in incidence may be caused by undetectably small seasonal changes(More)
Deep sequencing now provides detailed snapshots of ribosome occupancy on mRNAs. We leverage these data to parameterize a computational model of translation, keeping track of every ribosome, tRNA, and mRNA molecule in a yeast cell. We determine the parameter regimes in which fast initiation or high codon bias in a transgene increases protein yield and infer(More)
The relationship between species diversity and sampled area is fundamental to ecology. Traditionally, theories of the species-area relationship have been dominated by random-placement models. Such models were used to formulate the canonical theory of species-area curves and species abundances. In this paper, however, armed with a detailed data set from a(More)
Transcription factors regulate tissue patterning and cell fate determination during development; however, expression of early regulators frequently abates upon differentiation, suggesting that they may also play a role in maintaining an undifferentiated phenotype. The transcription factor paired box 3 (Pax3) is expressed by multipotent neural crest(More)
Recent work has revealed a new class of "zero-determinant" (ZD) strategies for iterated, two-player games. ZD strategies allow a player to unilaterally enforce a linear relationship between her score and her opponent's score, and thus to achieve an unusual degree of control over both players' long-term payoffs. Although originally conceived in the context(More)
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that results in progressive decline in behavior, executive function and sometimes language. Disease mechanisms remain poorly understood. Recently, however, the DNA- and RNA-binding protein TDP-43 has been identified as the major protein present in the hallmark inclusion bodies of(More)