Evolutionary rate variation within Mus APRT
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Rodents are thought to have relatively high rates of evolution, twice as fast as the rates for mammals in other orders. However, the uniformly high rates of evolution inferred for the order Rodentia from Mus musculus and Rattus norvegicus are not consistently found for other rodent species. Using a maximum likelihood phylogenetic algorithm (DNAML), we show here that Mus spicilegus has a fivefold different rate of evolution in 1100 bp around the adenine phosphoribosyltransferase gene (APRT) since its divergence from a common ancestor with Mus musculus. A greater than threefold difference in rates is also found in a comparison of the number of evolutionary events directly detected from the APRT sequences of these two closely related Mus species. The evolutionary events can be directly detected, since M. spicilegus, M. musculus, and the four rodent outgroup species used to determine the ancestral sequence are so closely related. One of the major differences between M. spicilegus and M. musculus that might affect evolutionary rate is the degree of commensalism with man. The Mus species therefore provide a useful model for testing various hypotheses for the causes of rate variations between genes, and possibly, between lineages.
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