The Jackprot Simulation

Published on line in Evolution: Education and Outreach: Paz-y-Miño C., G., Espinosa A. & Bai CY. The Jackprot Simulation Couples Mutation Rate with Natural Selection to Illustrate How Protein Evolution Is Not Random. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:502–514

Click on The_Jackprot_Simulation_Guidelines.pdf to download this easy step-by step protocol. For students, the Protein Evolution Jackprot Simulation video is easy to follow.

Conceptualized by Guillermo Paz-y-Miño C. (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth), Avelina Espinosa (Roger Williams University) and Chunyan Y. Bai (Roger Williams University), the Jackprot uses simplified slot-machine probability principles to demonstrate how mutation rate coupled with natural selection suffice to explain the origin and evolution of highly specialized proteins. The Jackprot also helps us understand why evolution by means of natural selection cannot be a random process.

Click on the Jackprot-Simulation link  at the Evolution Literacy Webpage for more

A slot-machine represents the cellular chemical apparatus, product itself of Darwinian evolution, required to generate, step by step, each of the three nucleotides coding for an amino acid. The probability of getting the correct triplet, for example, the start codon methionine or ATG, in a single attempt (or winning the ‘jackacid’), is equal to 1/64, or one divided by 4 x 4 x 4 (i.e. the total number of possible nucleotides per position multiplied by itself three times)…

…But because molecular evolution occurs gradually, a naturalistic assumption of the ‘jackprot’ model, each time any of the correct nucleotides is generated by the slot-machine, natural selection rewards it and keeps it (partial nucleotide win in a codon or ‘jackdon’)…