Directional mutation pressure, selective constraints, and genetic equilibria

J Mol Evol. 1992 Feb;34(2):95-114. doi: 10.1007/BF00182387.


Rates of substitution mutations in two directions, v [from an A-T or T-A nucleotide pair (AT-pair) to a G-C or C-G nucleotide pair (GC-pair)] and u [from a GC-pair to an AT-pair], are usually not the same. The net effect, v/(u + v), has previously been defined as directional mutation pressure (mu D), which explains the wide interspecific variation and narrow intragenomic heterogeneity of DNA G + C content in bacteria. In this article, first, a theory of the evolution of DNA G + C content is presented that is based on the equilibrium among three components: directional mutation pressure, DNA G + C content, and selective constraints. According to this theory, consideration of both u and v as well as selective constraints is essential to explain the molecular evolution of the DNA base composition and sequence. Second, the theory of directional mutation pressure is applied to the analysis of the wide intragenomic heterogeneity of DNA G + C content in multicellular eukaryotes. The theory explains the extensive intragenomic heterogeneity of G + C content of higher eukaryotes primarily as the result of the intragenomic differences of directional mutation pressure and selective constraints rather than the result of positive selections for functional advantages of the DNA G + C content itself.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Composition
  • Biological Evolution*
  • DNA
  • Gene Frequency
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Selection, Genetic*


  • DNA