Molecular evolutionary rates of oncogenes.
Using nine sets of viral and cellular oncogenes, the rates of nucleotide substitutions were computed by using Gojobori and Yokoyama's (1985) method. The results obtained confirmed our previous conclusion that the rates of nucleotide substitution for the viral oncogenes are about a million times higher than those for their cellular counterparts. For cellular oncogenes and most viral oncogenes, however, the rate of synonymous substitution is higher than that of nonsynonymous substitution. Moreover, the pattern of nucleotide substitutions for viral oncogenes is more similar to that for functional genes (such as cellular oncogenes) than for pseudogenes. This implies that nucleotide substitutions in viral oncogenes may be functionally constrained. Thus, our observation supports that nucleotide substitutions for the oncogenes in those DNA and RNA genomes are consistent with Kimura's neutral theory of molecular evolution (Kimura 1968, 1983).