Understanding the Factors That Shape Patterns of Nucleotide Diversity in the House Mouse Genome

Mol Biol Evol. 2018 Dec 1;35(12):2971-2988. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msy188.


A major goal of population genetics has been to determine the extent by which selection at linked sites influences patterns of neutral nucleotide diversity in the genome. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that diversity is influenced by both positive and negative selection. For example, in many species there are troughs in diversity surrounding functional genomic elements, consistent with the action of either background selection (BGS) or selective sweeps. In this study, we investigated the causes of the diversity troughs that are observed in the wild house mouse genome. Using the unfolded site frequency spectrum, we estimated the strength and frequencies of deleterious and advantageous mutations occurring in different functional elements in the genome. We then used these estimates to parameterize forward-in-time simulations of chromosomes, using realistic distributions of functional elements and recombination rate variation in order to determine whether selection at linked sites can explain the observed patterns of nucleotide diversity. The simulations suggest that BGS alone cannot explain the dips in diversity around either exons or conserved noncoding elements. A combination of BGS and selective sweeps produces deeper dips in diversity than BGS alone, but the inferred parameters of selection cannot fully explain the patterns observed in the genome. Our results provide evidence of sweeps shaping patterns of nucleotide diversity across the mouse genome and also suggest that infrequent, strongly advantageous mutations play an important role in this. The limitations of using the unfolded site frequency spectrum for inferring the frequency and effects of advantageous mutations are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Exons
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Fitness
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome*
  • Mice / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Silent Mutation