HYPOTHESIS | doi:10.20944/preprints202206.0409.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Genetics Keywords: Non random mutation; interaction-based evolution; hemoglobin S; directed mutation; parallelism; genome organization
Online: 29 June 2022 (14:56:32 CEST)
Recent results have shown that the human malaria-resistant hemoglobin S mutation originates de novo more frequently in the gene and in the population where it is of adaptive significance, namely, in the hemoglobin subunit beta gene compared to the non-resistant but otherwise identical 20A>T mutation in the hemoglobin subunit delta gene, and in sub-Saharan Africans, who have been subject to intense malarial pressure for many generations, compared to Northern Europeans, who have not. This finding raises a fundamental challenge to the traditional notion of accidental mutation. Here we address this finding with the replacement hypothesis, according to which pre-existing genetic interactions can lead directly and mechanistically to mutations that simplify and replace them. Thus, a gradual evolutionary process under selection can hone in on interactions of importance for the currently evolving adaptations, from which large-effect mutations follow that are relevant to these adaptations. We exemplify this hypothesis using multiple types of mutation, including gene fusion mutations, gene duplication mutations, A>G mutations in RNA-edited sites and transcription-associated mutations, and place it in the broader context of a system-level view of mutation origination called Interaction-based Evolution. Potential consequences include that similarity of mutation pressures may contribute to parallel evolution in genetically related species, that the evolution of genome organization may be driven by mutational mechanisms, that transposable element movements may also be explained by replacement, and that long-term directional mutational responses to specific environmental pressures are possible. Such responses need to be further tested by future studies in natural and artificial settings.
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