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Selection, adaptation, and bacterial operons.

Authors
  • Hall, B G
Type
Published Article
Journal
Genome / National Research Council Canada = Génome / Conseil national de recherches Canada
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1989
Volume
31
Issue
1
Pages
265–271
Identifiers
PMID: 2687097
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Bacteria are especially useful as systems to study the molecular basis of adaptive evolution. Selection for novel metabolic capabilities has allowed us to study the evolutionary potential of organisms and has shown that there are three major "strategies" for the evolution of new metabolic functions. (i) Regulatory mutations may allow a gene to be expressed under unusual conditions. If the product of that gene is already active toward a novel resource, then a regulatory mutation alone may confer a new metabolic capability. (ii) Structural gene mutations may alter the catalytic properties of enzymes so that they can act on novel substrates. These structural gene mutations may dramatically improve catalytic capabilities, and in some cases they can confer entirely new capabilities upon enzymes. In most cases both regulatory and structural gene mutations are required for the effective evolution of new metabolic functions. (iii) Operons that are normally silent, or cryptic, may be activated by either point mutations or by the action of mobile genetic elements. When activated, these operons can provide entirely new pathways for the metabolism of novel resources. Selection can also play a role in modulating the probability that a particular adaptive mutation will occur. In this paper I present evidence that a specific adaptive mutation, reversion of the metB1 mutation, occurs 60 to 80 times more frequently during prolonged selection on plates under conditions where the members of the population are not growing than it does in growing cells under nonselective conditions. This selective condition, methionine starvation, does not increase the frequency of other mutations unrelated to methionine biosynthesis.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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