A variety of mutations in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 (BMPR2) have been identified in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. In this study, using our BMPR2 mutation database and BMPR-II protein sequences from eight distantly related species, we defined the relationship among evolutionary conservation, mutation frequency and mutation distribution. As a whole, BMPR2 is evolving slower than the average for mammalian protein-encoding genes. As expected, the kinase domain is evolving more slowly than the extracellular ligand-binding and C-terminal domains. A detailed map of evolutionary conservation shows that there are repeating peaks and valleys within the C-terminal domain, representing higher and lower evolutionary conservation. We observed a strong correlation between evolutionary conservation and the distribution of mutations along the gene. All except two, of the nineteen missense mutations occur in absolutely conserved amino acids among the vertebrate homologs. In addition, we identified six mutational hotspots (P < 0.05) by comparing the observed distribution of mutations to the pattern expected from a random multinomial distribution. Furthermore, analysis of the sequence environment surrounding the mutations revealed a specific pattern of mutagenesis. Over 22% of all single base-paired substitutions and 30% of all deletions and insertions are situated within tandem or non-tandem direct repeats of at least 5-bp and may be explained by slipped-mispairing model of mutagenesis. Also, over 59% of single base-paired substitutions versus 20% of deletions and insertions are located in perfect palindromic sequences that could produce "hairpin-loop" secondary structures with relatively high thermodynamic stability under physiological conditions. In addition, 3.7% of single base-paired substitutions versus 30% of deletions and insertions are located either within or in close proximity to the Krawczak and Cooper consensus sequence (TG A/G A/G G/T A/C). Further study of the mechanism of mutagenesis in BMPR2 may help identify other potentially mutable sites and differentiate between deleterious mutations and harmless polymorphic variants. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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