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Tuning Knobs in the Genome:
Evolution of Simple Sequence Repeats by Indirect Selection

Chapter 4 in The Implicit Genome, edited by Lynn Caporale, Oxford University Press, 2006

by David G. King
Department of Anatomy and Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University

Edward Trifonov
Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa

and Yechezkel Kashi
Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology


Simple sequence repeats (SSRs) are highly mutable sites that are distributed throughout eukaryotic genomes.  They often occur as functional elements within genes and gene-regulatory regions where mutational changes in repeat number pro-vide extensive variation with minimal genetic load.  Implicit in this mutability is the potential for rapid and reversible adjustment of quantitative traits.  Although these repetitive elements have been regarded as "junk" or "selfish" DNA, their unique properties are consistent with indirect selection for a "tuning knob" function that facilitates efficient evolutionary adaptation.

Also see:

Y. Kashi, and D.G. King (2006)  Simple Sequence Repeats as Advantageous Mutators in Evolution.  Trends in Genetics 22:253-259.  [Abstract]

King, D.G., and M. Soller (1999)  Variation and fidelity:  The evolution of simple sequence repeats as functional elements in adjustable genes.  In:  S.P. Wasser, ed., Evolutionary Theory and Processes: Modern Perspectives, pp. 65-82.  Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.  [Abstract]  

King, D.G., M. Soller and Y. Kashi (1997)  Evolutionary tuning knobs.  Endeavour 21:36-40.  [related page]  [PDF text]

Y. Kashi, D.G. King, and M. Soller (1997)  Simple sequence repeats as a source of quantitative genetic variation.  Trends in Genetics 13:74-78.  [Abstract]  [PDF text]

King, D.G. (1994)  Triplet repeat DNA as a highly mutable regulatory mechanism.  Science 263:595-596.  [PDF text]

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Last updated:  4 May 2006 / dgk