Friday, June 03, 2005

Phylogenetic Estimation of Context-Dependent Substitution Rates by Maximum Likelihood

Mol Biol Evol. 21:468-88.
Adam Sieple and David Haussler

Abstract: Nucleotide substitution in both coding and noncoding regions is context-dependent, in the sense that substitution rates depend on the identity of neighboring bases. Context-dependent substitution has been modeled in the case of two sequences and an unrooted phylogenetic tree, but it has only been accommodated in limited ways with more general phylogenies. In this article, extensions are presented to standard phylogenetic models that allow for better handling of context-dependent substitution, yet still permit exact inference at reasonable computational cost. The new models improve goodness of fit substantially for both coding and noncoding data. Considering context dependence leads to much larger improvements than does using a richer substitution model or allowing for rate variation across sites, under the assumption of site independence. The observed improvements appear to derive from three separate properties of the models: their explicit characterization of context-dependent substitution within N-tuples of adjacent sites, their ability to accommodate overlapping N-tuples, and their rich parameterization of the substitution process. Parameter estimation is accomplished using an expectation maximization algorithm, with a quasi-Newton algorithm for the maximization step; this approach is shown to be preferable to ordinary Newton methods for parameter-rich models. [Follow the link above to read more]

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