Exploring the Mutational Robustness of Nucleic Acids by Searching Genotype Neighborhoods in Sequence Space.

Abstract

To assess the mutational robustness of nucleic acids, many genome- and protein-level studies have been performed, where nucleic acids are treated as genetic information carriers and transferrers. However, the molecular mechanisms through which mutations alter the structural, dynamic, and functional properties of nucleic acids are poorly understood. Here we performed a SELEX in silico study to investigate the fitness distribution of the l-Arm-binding aptamer genotype neighborhoods. Two novel functional genotype neighborhoods were isolated and experimentally verified to have comparable fitness as the wild-type. The experimental aptamer fitness landscape suggests the mutational robustness is strongly influenced by the local base environment and ligand-binding mode, whereas bases distant from the binding pocket provide potential evolutionary pathways to approach the global fitness maximum. Our work provides an example of successful application of SELEX in silico to optimize an aptamer and demonstrates the strong sensitivity of mutational robustness to the site of genetic variation.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.6b02769

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Cite this paper

@article{Zhou2017ExploringTM, title={Exploring the Mutational Robustness of Nucleic Acids by Searching Genotype Neighborhoods in Sequence Space.}, author={Qingtong Zhou and Xianbao Sun and Xiaole Xia and Zhou Fan and Zhao-feng Luo and Suwen Zhao and Eugene Shakhnovich and Haojun Liang}, journal={The journal of physical chemistry letters}, year={2017}, volume={8 2}, pages={407-414} }