Site-to-site variation of synonymous substitution rates.


We develop a new model for studying the molecular evolution of protein-coding DNA sequences. In contrast to existing models, we incorporate the potential for site-to-site heterogeneity of both synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution rates. We demonstrate that within-gene heterogeneity of synonymous substitution rates appears to be common. Using the new family of models, we investigate the utility of a variety of new statistical inference procedures, and we pay particular attention to issues surrounding the detection of sites undergoing positive selection. We discuss how failure to model synonymous rate variation in the model can lead to misidentification of sites as positively selected.

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