Convergent Evolution of Sodium Ion Selectivity in Metazoan Neuronal Signaling

Maya Gur Barzilai, Adam M. Reitzel, Johanna E.M. Kraus, Dalia Gordon, Ulrich Technau, Michael Gurevitz, Yehu Moran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The consistent observation across all kingdoms of life that highly abundant proteins evolve slowly demonstrates that cellular abundance is a key determinant of protein evolutionary rate. However, other empirical findings, such as the broad distribution of evolutionary rates, suggest that additional variables determine the rate of protein evolution. Here, we report that under the global selection against the cytotoxic effects of misfolded proteins, folding stability (Δ. G), simultaneous with abundance, is a causal variable of evolutionary rate. Using both theoretical analysis and multiscale simulations, we demonstrate that the anticorrelation between the premutation Δ. G and the arising mutational effect (ΔΔ. G), purely biophysical in origin, is a necessary requirement for abundance-evolutionary rate covariation. Additionally, we predict and demonstrate in bacteria that the strength of abundance-evolutionary rate correlation depends on the divergence time separating reference genomes. Altogether, these results highlight the intrinsic role of protein biophysics in the emerging universal patterns of molecular evolution.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)242-248
Number of pages7
JournalCell Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - 30 Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank N. King and M.J. Westbrook (University of California, Berkeley), L.Z. Holland (University of California, San Diego), P.A.V. Anderson (University of Florida), and B. Schierwater and M. Eitel (Institut für Tierökologie und Zellbiologie, Hannover) for providing RNA and tissue samples; D. Fredman (University of Vienna) for sharing data; and T.J. Jegla (Penn State University) and N. Dascal (Tel Aviv University) for critical comments. Y.M. was supported by an EMBO long-term fellowship (ALTF 1096-2009). A.M.R. was supported by award F32HD062178 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. This study was supported by a research grant from the Austrian National Science Foundation (FWF P 21108-B17) to U.T., and by a United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Grant (IS-4313-10) and an Israeli Science Foundation grant (107/08) to M.G.


Dive into the research topics of 'Convergent Evolution of Sodium Ion Selectivity in Metazoan Neuronal Signaling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this