FRESCo: finding regions of excess synonymous constraint in diverse viruses. Results: We developed a phylogenetic codon model-based framework, FRESCo, designed to find regions of excess synonymous constraint in short, deep alignments, such as individual viral genes across many sequenced isolates. We demonstrated the high specificity of our approach on simulated data and applied our framework to the protein-coding regions of approximately 30 distinct species of viruses with diverse genome architectures. Conclusions: FRESCo recovers known multifunctional regions in well-characterized viruses such as hepatitis B virus, poliovirus, and West Nile virus, often at a single-codon resolution, and predicts many novel functional elements overlapping viral genes, including in Lassa and Ebola viruses. In a number of viruses, the synonymously constrained regions that we identified also display conserved, stable predicted RNA structures, including putative novel elements in multiple viral species.

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  1. Ostash, Bohdan; Anisimova, Maria: Visualizing codon usage within and across genomes: concepts and tools (2020)