A method to find longevity-selected positions in the mammalian proteome

PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38595. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038595. Epub 2012 Jun 11.


Evolutionary theory suggests that the force of natural selection decreases with age. To explore the extent to which this prediction directly affects protein structure and function, we used multiple regression to find longevity-selected positions, defined as the columns of a sequence alignment conserved in long-lived but not short-lived mammal species. We analyzed 7,590 orthologous protein families in 33 mammalian species, accounting for body mass, phylogeny, and species-specific mutation rate. Overall, we found that the number of longevity-selected positions in the mammalian proteome is much higher than would be expected by chance. Further, these positions are enriched in domains of several proteins that interact with one another in inflammation and other aging-related processes, as well as in organismal development. We present as an example the kinase domain of anti-müllerian hormone type-2 receptor (AMHR2). AMHR2 inhibits ovarian follicle recruitment and growth, and a homology model of the kinase domain shows that its longevity-selected positions cluster near a SNP associated with delayed human menopause. Distinct from its canonical role in development, this region of AMHR2 may function to regulate the protein's activity in a lifespan-specific manner.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Conserved Sequence / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation Rate*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proteome / genetics*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Receptors, Peptide / genetics
  • Receptors, Peptide / metabolism
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Species Specificity


  • Proteome
  • Receptors, Peptide
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • anti-Mullerian hormone receptor