Quantifying evolutionary constraints on B-cell affinity maturation.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, Volume 370, Issue 1676 (2015)


The antibody repertoire of each individual is continuously updated by the evolutionary process of B-cell receptor (BCR) mutation and selection. It has recently become possible to gain detailed information concerning this process through high-throughput sequencing. Here, we develop modern statistical molecular evolution methods for the analysis of B-cell sequence data, and then apply them to a very deep short-read dataset of BCRs. We find that the substitution process is conserved across individuals but varies significantly across gene segments. We investigate selection on BCRs using a novel method that side-steps the difficulties encountered by previous work in differentiating between selection and motif-driven mutation; this is done through stochastic mapping and empirical Bayes estimators that compare the evolution of in-frame and out-of-frame rearrangements. We use this new method to derive a per-residue map of selection, which provides a more nuanced view of the constraints on framework and variable regions.