Markovian and non-Markovian protein sequence evolution: Aggregated Markov process models

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Over the years, there have been claims that evolution proceeds according to systematically different processes over different timescales and that protein evolution behaves in a non-Markovian manner. On the other hand, Markov models are fundamental to many applications in evolutionary studies. Apparent non-Markovian or time-dependent behavior has been attributed to influence of the genetic code at short timescales and dominance of physicochemical properties of the amino acids at long timescales. However, any long time period is simply the accumulation of many short time periods, and it remains unclear why evolution should appear to act systematically differently across the range of timescales studied. We show that the observed time-dependent behavior can be explained qualitatively by modeling protein sequence evolution as an aggregated Markov process (AMP): a time-homogeneous Markovian substitution model observed only at the level of the amino acids encoded by the protein-coding DNA sequence. The study of AMPs sheds new light on the relationship between amino acid-level and codon-level models of sequence evolution, and our results suggest that protein evolution should be modeled at the codon level rather than using amino acid substitution models. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Kosiol, C., & Goldman, N. (2011). Markovian and non-Markovian protein sequence evolution: Aggregated Markov process models. Journal of Molecular Biology, 411(4), 910–923.

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