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Keywords:

  • Adh;
  • codon bias;
  • Drosophila;
  • ethanol tolerance;
  • natural selection;
  • synonymous substitutions

Abstract

The ethanol tolerance of adult transgenic flies of Drosophila containing between zero and ten unpreferred synonymous mutations that reduced codon bias in the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) gene was assayed. As the amino acid sequences of the ADH protein were identical in the four genotypes assayed, differences in ethanol tolerance were due to differences in the abundance of ADH protein, presumably driven by the effects of codon bias on translational efficiency. The ethanol tolerance of genotypes decreased with the number of unpreferred synonymous mutations, and a positive correlation between ADH protein abundance and ethanol tolerance was observed. This work confirms that the fitness effects of unpreferred synonymous mutations that reduce codon bias in a highly expressed gene are experimentally measurable in Drosophila melanogaster.