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Bayesian factor models in characterizing molecular adaptation

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Assessing the selective influence of amino acid properties is important in understanding evolution at the molecular level. A collection of methods and models has been developed in recent years to determine if amino acid sites in a given DNA sequence alignment display substitutions that are altering or conserving a prespecified set of amino acid properties. Residues showing an elevated number of substitutions that favorably alter a physicochemical property are considered targets of positive natural selection. Such approaches usually perform independent analyses for each amino acid property under consideration, without taking into account the fact that some of the properties may be highly correlated. We propose a Bayesian hierarchical regression model with latent factor structure that allows us to determine which sites display substitutions that conserve or radically change a set of amino acid properties, while accounting for the correlation structure that may be present across such properties. We illustrate our approach by analyzing simulated data sets and an alignment of lysin sperm DNA.
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Keywords: Bayesian factor models; amino acid properties; hierarchical models; mixture priors; natural selection

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Ave N Seattle, WA, 98109, USA 2: Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, University of California Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street Santa Cruz, CA, 95064, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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