Patterns of Gene Conversion in Duplicated Yeast Histones Suggest Strong Selection on a Coadapted Macromolecular Complex

Genome Biol Evol. 2015 Nov 11;7(12):3249-58. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evv216.


We find evidence for interlocus gene conversion in five duplicated histone genes from six yeast species. The sequences of these duplicated genes, surviving from the ancient genome duplication, show phylogenetic patterns inconsistent with the well-resolved orthology relationships inferred from a likelihood model of gene loss after the genome duplication. Instead, these paralogous genes are more closely related to each other than any is to its nearest ortholog. In addition to simulations supporting gene conversion, we also present evidence for elevated rates of radical amino acid substitutions along the branches implicated in the conversion events. As these patterns are similar to those seen in ribosomal proteins that have undergone gene conversion, we speculate that in cases where duplicated genes code for proteins that are a part of tightly interacting complexes, selection may favor the fixation of gene conversion events in order to maintain high protein identities between duplicated copies.

Keywords: gene conversion; genome duplication; histones.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Conversion*
  • Gene Duplication*
  • Histones / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic*


  • Histones
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins