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Convergent evolution of molecules in electric fish

s, they found that some of the mutations occurred at the same or very close to sites in the protein where mutations have been shown to cause disease in humans.

"Functionally important parts of this molecule are changing in order to change the electrical discharge in the fish--changes that would be detrimental in a human muscle," says Zakon.

Looking at the convergent evolution of sodium channels in these fish helps neurobiologists identify important parts of these proteins relevant to human health, adds Zakon.

"When natural selection is acting to cause changes in a part of a molecule, you know it's functionally important," he says. "Natural selection can start showing you the important parts of molecules. We took the evolutionary approach, which is very compatible with the clinical approach."


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Source:University of Texas at Austin


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