Indexed on: 22 Feb '17Published on: 22 Feb '17Published in: Trends in Microbiology
Evolution could potentially be accelerated if an organism could selectively increase the mutation rate of specific genes that are actively under positive selection. Recently, a mechanism that cells can use to target rapid evolution to specific genes was discovered. This mechanism is driven by gene orientation-dependent encounters between DNA replication and transcription machineries. These encounters increase mutagenesis in lagging-strand genes, where replication-transcription conflicts are severe. Due to the orientation and transcription-dependent nature of this process, conflict-driven mutagenesis can be used by cells to spatially (gene-specifically) and temporally (only upon transcription induction) regulate the rate of gene evolution. Here, I summarize recent findings on this topic, and discuss the implications of increasing mutagenesis rates and accelerating evolution through active mechanisms.