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1.  Genome-wide Protein-protein Interaction Screening by Protein-fragment Complementation Assay (PCA) in Living Cells 
Proteins are the building blocks, effectors and signal mediators of cellular processes. A protein’s function, regulation and localization often depend on its interactions with other proteins. Here, we describe a protocol for the yeast protein-fragment complementation assay (PCA), a powerful method to detect direct and proximal associations between proteins in living cells. The interaction between two proteins, each fused to a dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) protein fragment, translates into growth of yeast strains in presence of the drug methotrexate (MTX). Differential fitness, resulting from different amounts of reconstituted DHFR enzyme, can be quantified on high-density colony arrays, allowing to differentiate interacting from non-interacting bait-prey pairs. The high-throughput protocol presented here is performed using a robotic platform that parallelizes mating of bait and prey strains carrying complementary DHFR-fragment fusion proteins and the survival assay on MTX. This protocol allows to systematically test for thousands of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) involving bait proteins of interest and offers several advantages over other PPI detection assays, including the study of proteins expressed from their endogenous promoters without the need for modifying protein localization and for the assembly of complex reporter constructs.
PMCID: PMC4401175  PMID: 25867901
Cellular Biology; Issue 97; Protein-protein interaction (PPI); high-throughput screening; yeast; protein-fragment complementation assay (PCA); dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR); high-density arrays; systems biology; biological networks
2.  Turnover of protein phosphorylation evolving under stabilizing selection 
Frontiers in Genetics  2014;5:245.
Most proteins are regulated by posttranslational modifications and changes in these modifications contribute to evolutionary changes as well as to human diseases. Phosphorylation of serines, threonines, and tyrosines are the most common modifications identified to date in eukaryotic proteomes. While the mode of action and the function of most phosphorylation sites remain unknown, functional studies have shown that phosphorylation affects protein stability, localization and ability to interact. Two broad modes of action have been described for protein phosphorylation. The first mode corresponds to the canonical and qualitative view whereby single phosphorylation sites act as molecular switches that either turn on or off specific protein functions through direct or allosteric effects. The second mode is more akin to a rheostat than a switch. In this case, a group of phosphorylation sites in a given protein region contributes collectively to the modification of the protein, irrespective of the precise position of individual sites, through an aggregate property. Here we discuss these two types of regulation and examine how they affect the rate and patterns of protein phosphorylation evolution. We describe how the evolution of clusters of phosphorylation sites can be studied under the framework of complex traits evolution and stabilizing selection.
PMCID: PMC4107968  PMID: 25101120
protein phosphorylation; evolutionary turnover; molecular switches; molecular rheostats; protein evolution; molecular evolution; cell signaling
3.  Identification of candidate mimicry proteins involved in parasite-driven phenotypic changes 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:225.
Endoparasites with complex life cycles are faced with several biological challenges, as they need to occupy various ecological niches throughout their development. Host phenotypes that increase the parasite’s transmission rate to the next host have been extensively described, but few mechanistic explanations have been proposed to describe their proximate causes. In this study we explore the possibility that host phenotypic changes are triggered by the production of mimicry proteins from the parasite by using an ecological model system consisting of the infection of the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) by the cestode Schistocephalus solidus.
Using RNA-seq data, we assembled 9,093 protein-coding genes from which ORFs were predicted to generate a reference proteome. Based on a previously published method, we built two complementary analysis pipelines to i) establish a general classification of protein similarity among various species (pipeline A) and ii) identify candidate mimicry proteins showing specific host-parasite similarities (pipeline B), a key feature underlying the possibility of molecular mimicry.
Ninety-four tapeworm proteins showed high local sequence homology with stickleback proteins. Four of these candidates correspond to secreted or membrane proteins that could be produced by the parasite and eventually be released in or be in contact with the host to modulate physiological pathways involved in various phenotypes (e.g. behaviors). One of these candidates belongs to the Wnt family, a large group of signaling molecules involved in cell-to-cell interactions and various developmental pathways. The three other candidates are involved in ion transport and post-translational protein modifications. We further confirmed that these four candidates are expressed in three different developmental stages of the cestode by RT-PCR, including the stages found in the host.
In this study, we identified mimicry candidate peptides from a behavior-altering cestode showing specific sequence similarity with host proteins. Despite their potential role in modulating host pathways that could lead to parasite-induced phenotypic changes and despite our confirmation that they are expressed in the developmental stage corresponding to the altered host behavior, further investigations will be needed to confirm their mechanistic role in the molecular cross-talk taking place between S. solidus and the threespine stickleback.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-015-0834-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4407394  PMID: 25888917
Parasites; Schistocephalus solidus; Cestodes; Ecological genomics; Genomics/proteomics; Molecular mimicry; Host-parasite interactions; Wnt; RT-PCR
4.  Where Do Phosphosites Come from and Where Do They Go after Gene Duplication? 
Gene duplication followed by divergence is an important mechanism that leads to molecular innovation. Divergence of paralogous genes can be achieved at functional and regulatory levels. Whereas regulatory divergence at the transcriptional level is well documented, little is known about divergence of posttranslational modifications (PTMs). Protein phosphorylation, one of the most important PTMs, has recently been shown to be an important determinant of the retention of paralogous genes. Here we test whether gains and losses of phosphorylated amino acids after gene duplication may specifically modify the regulation of these duplicated proteins. We show that when phosphosites are lost in one paralog, transitions from phosphorylated serines and threonines are significantly biased toward negatively charged amino acids, which can mimic their phosphorylated status in a constitutive manner. Our analyses support the hypothesis that divergence between paralogs can be generated by a loss of the posttranslational regulatory control on a function rather than by the complete loss of the function itself. Surprisingly, these favoured transitions cannot be reached by single mutational steps, which suggests that the function of a phosphosite needs to be completely abolished before it is restored through substitution by these phosphomimetic residues. We conclude by discussing how gene duplication could facilitate the transitions between phosphorylated and phosphomimetic amino acids.
PMCID: PMC3388353  PMID: 22779031
5.  Local climatic adaptation in a widespread microorganism 
Exploring the ability of organisms to locally adapt is critical for determining the outcome of rapid climate changes, yet few studies have addressed this question in microorganisms. We investigated the role of a heterogeneous climate on adaptation of North American populations of the wild yeast Saccharomyces paradoxus. We found abundant among-strain variation for fitness components across a range of temperatures, but this variation was only partially explained by climatic variation in the distribution area. Most of fitness variation was explained by the divergence of genetically distinct groups, distributed along a north–south cline, suggesting that these groups have adapted to distinct climatic conditions. Within-group fitness components were correlated with climatic conditions, illustrating that even ubiquitous microorganisms locally adapt and harbour standing genetic variation for climate-related traits. Our results suggest that global climatic changes could lead to adaptation to new conditions within groups, or changes in their geographical distributions.
PMCID: PMC3896012  PMID: 24403328
Saccharomyces paradoxus; climate adaptation; global warming; temperature-dependent fitness; freeze–thaw survival
6.  Metabolic variation in natural populations of wild yeast 
Ecology and Evolution  2015;5(3):722-732.
Ecological diversification depends on the extent of genetic variation and on the pattern of covariation with respect to ecological opportunities. We investigated the pattern of utilization of carbon substrates in wild populations of budding yeast Saccharomyces paradoxus. All isolates grew well on a core diet of about 10 substrates, and most were also able to grow on a much larger ancillary diet comprising most of the 190 substrates we tested. There was substantial genetic variation within each population for some substrates. We found geographical variation of substrate use at continental, regional, and local scales. Isolates from Europe and North America could be distinguished on the basis of the pattern of yield across substrates. Two geographical races at the North American sites also differed in the pattern of substrate utilization. Substrate utilization patterns were also geographically correlated at local spatial scales. Pairwise genetic correlations between substrates were predominantly positive, reflecting overall variation in metabolic performance, but there was a consistent negative correlation between categories of substrates in two cases: between the core diet and the ancillary diet, and between pentose and hexose sugars. Such negative correlations in the utilization of substrate from different categories may indicate either intrinsic physiological trade-offs for the uptake and utilization of substrates from different categories, or the accumulation of conditionally neutral mutations. Divergence in substrate use accompanies genetic divergence at all spatial scales in S. paradoxus and may contribute to race formation and speciation.
PMCID: PMC4328774  PMID: 25691993
Ecological diversification; evolution; genetic variation; metabolic trade-offs; microbial metabolic diversity; Saccharomyces paradoxus
7.  Detecting Functional Divergence after Gene Duplication through Evolutionary Changes in Posttranslational Regulatory Sequences 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(12):e1003977.
Gene duplication is an important evolutionary mechanism that can result in functional divergence in paralogs due to neo-functionalization or sub-functionalization. Consistent with functional divergence after gene duplication, recent studies have shown accelerated evolution in retained paralogs. However, little is known in general about the impact of this accelerated evolution on the molecular functions of retained paralogs. For example, do new functions typically involve changes in enzymatic activities, or changes in protein regulation? Here we study the evolution of posttranslational regulation by examining the evolution of important regulatory sequences (short linear motifs) in retained duplicates created by the whole-genome duplication in budding yeast. To do so, we identified short linear motifs whose evolutionary constraint has relaxed after gene duplication with a likelihood-ratio test that can account for heterogeneity in the evolutionary process by using a non-central chi-squared null distribution. We find that short linear motifs are more likely to show changes in evolutionary constraints in retained duplicates compared to single-copy genes. We examine changes in constraints on known regulatory sequences and show that for the Rck1/Rck2, Fkh1/Fkh2, Ace2/Swi5 paralogs, they are associated with previously characterized differences in posttranslational regulation. Finally, we experimentally confirm our prediction that for the Ace2/Swi5 paralogs, Cbk1 regulated localization was lost along the lineage leading to SWI5 after gene duplication. Our analysis suggests that changes in posttranslational regulation mediated by short regulatory motifs systematically contribute to functional divergence after gene duplication.
Author Summary
How a protein is controlled is intimately linked to its function. Therefore, evolution can drive the functional divergence of proteins by tweaking their regulation, even if enzymatic capacities are preserved. Changes in posttranslational regulation (protein phosphorylation, degradation, subcellular localization, etc.) could therefore represent key mechanisms in functional divergence and lead to different phenotypic outcomes. Since disordered protein regions contain sites of protein modification and interaction (known as short linear motifs) and evolve rapidly relative to domains encoding enzymatic functions, these regions are good candidates to harbour sequence changes that underlie changes in function. In this study, we develop a statistical framework to identify changes in rate of evolution specific to protein regulatory sequences and identify hundreds of short linear motifs in disordered regions that are likely to have diverged after the whole-genome duplication in budding yeast. We show that these divergent motifs are much more frequent in paralogs than in single-copy proteins, and that they are more frequent in duplicate pairs that have functionally diverged. Our analysis suggests that changes in short linear motifs in disordered protein regions could be important molecular mechanisms of functional divergence after gene duplication.
PMCID: PMC4256066  PMID: 25474245
8.  Functional Divergence and Evolutionary Turnover in Mammalian Phosphoproteomes 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(1):e1004062.
Protein phosphorylation is a key mechanism to regulate protein functions. However, the contribution of this protein modification to species divergence is still largely unknown. Here, we studied the evolution of mammalian phosphoregulation by comparing the human and mouse phosphoproteomes. We found that 84% of the positions that are phosphorylated in one species or the other are conserved at the residue level. Twenty percent of these conserved sites are phosphorylated in both species. This proportion is 2.5 times more than expected by chance alone, suggesting that purifying selection is preserving phosphoregulation. However, we show that the majority of the sites that are conserved at the residue level are differentially phosphorylated between species. These sites likely result from false-negative identifications due to incomplete experimental coverage, false-positive identifications and non-functional sites. In addition, our results suggest that at least 5% of them are likely to be true differentially phosphorylated sites and may thus contribute to the divergence in phosphorylation networks between mouse and humans and this, despite residue conservation between orthologous proteins. We also showed that evolutionary turnover of phosphosites at adjacent positions (in a distance range of up to 40 amino acids) in human or mouse leads to an over estimation of the divergence in phosphoregulation between these two species. These sites tend to be phosphorylated by the same kinases, supporting the hypothesis that they are functionally redundant. Our results support the hypothesis that the evolutionary turnover of phosphorylation sites contributes to the divergence in phosphorylation profiles while preserving phosphoregulation. Overall, our study provides advanced analyses of mammalian phosphoproteomes and a framework for the study of their contribution to phenotypic evolution.
Author Summary
Understanding how differences in cellular regulation lead to phenotypic differences between species remains an open challenge in evolutionary genetics. The extensive phosphorylation data currently available allows to compare the human and mouse phosphoproteomes and to measure changes in their phosphoregulation. We found a general conservation of phosphorylation sites between these two species. However, a fraction of sites are conserved at the sequence level (the same amino acid is present in both species) but differ in their phosphorylation status. These sites represent candidate sites that have the potential to explain differences between human and mouse signalling networks that do not depend on the divergence of orthologous residues. Furthermore, we identified several sites where to a phosphorylation site in one species corresponds a non-phosphorylatable residue in the other one. These cases represent clear differences in protein regulation. Recent studies suggest that phosphorylation sites can shift position during evolution, leading to configurations in which pairs of divergent phosphorylation sites are functionally redundant. We identified more than 100 putative such cases, suggesting that divergence in amino acid does not necessarily imply functional divergence when comparing phosphoproteomes. Overall, our study provides new key concepts and data for the study of how regulatory differences may be linked to phenotypic ones at the network level.
PMCID: PMC3900387  PMID: 24465218
9.  Protein abundance is key to distinguish promiscuous from functional phosphorylation based on evolutionary information 
In eukaryotic cells, protein phosphorylation is an important and widespread mechanism used to regulate protein function. Yet, of the thousands of phosphosites identified to date, only a few hundred at best have a characterized function. It was recently shown that these functional sites are significantly more conserved than phosphosites of unknown function, stressing the importance of considering evolutionary conservation in assessing the global functional landscape of phosphosites. This leads us to review studies that examined the impact of phosphorylation on evolutionary conservation. While all these studies have shown that conservation is greater among phosphorylated sites compared with non-phosphorylated ones, the magnitude of this difference varies greatly. Further, not all studies have considered key factors that may influence the rate of phosphosite evolution. Such key factors are their localization in ordered or disordered regions, their stoichiometry or the abundance of their corresponding protein. Here we take into account all of these factors simultaneously, which reveals remarkable evolutionary patterns. First, while it is well established that protein conservation increases with abundance, we show that phosphosites partly follow an opposite trend. More precisely, Saccharomyces cerevisiae phosphosites present among abundant proteins are 1.5 times more likely to diverge in the closely related species Saccharomyces bayanus when compared with phosphosites present in the 5 per cent least abundant proteins. Second, we show that conservation is coupled to stoichiometry, whereby sites frequently phosphorylated are more conserved than those rarely phosphorylated. Finally, we provide a model of functional and noisy or ‘accidental’ phosphorylation that explains these observations.
PMCID: PMC3415844  PMID: 22889910
phosphosite evolution; promiscuous phosphorylation; protein abundance; phosphosite stoichiometry; protein disorder
10.  Evidence for the Robustness of Protein Complexes to Inter-Species Hybridization 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(12):e1003161.
Despite the tremendous efforts devoted to the identification of genetic incompatibilities underlying hybrid sterility and inviability, little is known about the effect of inter-species hybridization at the protein interactome level. Here, we develop a screening platform for the comparison of protein–protein interactions (PPIs) among closely related species and their hybrids. We examine in vivo the architecture of protein complexes in two yeast species (Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces kudriavzevii) that diverged 5–20 million years ago and in their F1 hybrids. We focus on 24 proteins of two large complexes: the RNA polymerase II and the nuclear pore complex (NPC), which show contrasting patterns of molecular evolution. We found that, with the exception of one PPI in the NPC sub-complex, PPIs were highly conserved between species, regardless of protein divergence. Unexpectedly, we found that the architecture of the complexes in F1 hybrids could not be distinguished from that of the parental species. Our results suggest that the conservation of PPIs in hybrids likely results from the slow evolution taking place on the very few protein residues involved in the interaction or that protein complexes are inherently robust and may accommodate protein divergence up to the level that is observed among closely related species.
Author Summary
Independently evolving lineages accumulate mutations that are compatible within lineage but that may be incompatible among lineages. These incompatibilities are expected to accumulate among gene products that act together to produce a phenotype or that interact with each other physically. Genes coding for proteins that assemble into protein complexes co-evolve with each other in order to maintain these interactions over evolutionary time. These protein complexes are therefore potential hotspots for the accumulation of molecular incompatibilities. Because of the lack of molecular tools, this question has not been systematically addressed. Here, we develop a platform to measure, in vivo, the divergence of protein complexes in different yeast species and their perturbation in their F1 hybrids. We find that, despite a level of protein divergence that is as high as that observed between birds and mammals, most protein–protein interactions are highly conserved between species and are not perturbed in hybrids. Contrary to our expectations, our results show that protein complexes may be robust to inter-species hybridization and may not be a major contributor of incompatibilities to the reproductive isolation of recently formed species.
PMCID: PMC3531474  PMID: 23300466
11.  Characterization of Spindle Checkpoint Kinase Mps1 Reveals Domain with Functional and Structural Similarities to Tetratricopeptide Repeat Motifs of Bub1 and BubR1 Checkpoint Kinases* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;287(8):5988-6001.
Background: The N terminus is required for localization and functions of Mps1, Bub1, and BubR1 kinases.
Results: A novel Bub1/BubR1-related TPR motif is identified in Mps1 and is required for kinase activity.
Conclusion: TPR domain of Mps1 regulates kinase activity, Mps1 chromosome alignment, and checkpoint functions.
Significance: Identification of a novel domain in Mps1 enhances our understanding of its contribution to maintaining genome integrity.
Kinetochore targeting of the mitotic kinases Bub1, BubR1, and Mps1 has been implicated in efficient execution of their functions in the spindle checkpoint, the self-monitoring system of the eukaryotic cell cycle that ensures chromosome segregation occurs with high fidelity. In all three kinases, kinetochore docking is mediated by the N-terminal region of the protein. Deletions within this region result in checkpoint failure and chromosome segregation defects. Here, we use an interdisciplinary approach that includes biophysical, biochemical, cell biological, and bioinformatics methods to study the N-terminal region of human Mps1. We report the identification of a tandem repeat of the tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) motif in the N-terminal kinetochore binding region of Mps1, with close homology to the tandem TPR motif of Bub1 and BubR1. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that TPR Mps1 was acquired after the split between deutorostomes and protostomes, as it is distinguishable in chordates and echinoderms. Overexpression of TPR Mps1 resulted in decreased efficiency of both chromosome alignment and mitotic arrest, likely through displacement of endogenous Mps1 from the kinetochore and decreased Mps1 catalytic activity. Taken together, our multidisciplinary strategy provides new insights into the evolution, structural organization, and function of Mps1 N-terminal region.
PMCID: PMC3285366  PMID: 22187426
Cell Cycle; Checkpoint Control; Kinetochore; Mitosis; Mitotic Spindle; Chromosome Congression; Mps1; Spindle Checkpoint; TPR Domain
12.  Key considerations for measuring allelic expression on a genomic scale using high-throughput sequencing 
Molecular ecology  2010;19(Suppl 1):212-227.
Differences in gene expression are thought to be an important source of phenotypic diversity, so dissecting the genetic components of natural variation in gene expression is important for understanding the evolutionary mechanisms that lead to adaptation. Gene expression is a complex trait that, in diploid organisms, results from transcription of both maternal and paternal alleles. Directly measuring allelic expression rather than total gene expression offers greater insight into regulatory variation. The recent emergence of high-throughput sequencing offers an unprecedented opportunity to study allelic transcription at a genomic scale for virtually any species. By sequencing transcript pools derived from heterozygous individuals, estimates of allelic expression can be directly obtained. The statistical power of this approach is influenced by the number of transcripts sequenced and the ability to unambiguously assign individual sequence fragments to specific alleles on the basis of transcribed nucleotide polymorphisms. Here, using mathematical modelling and computer simulations, we determine the minimum sequencing depth required to accurately measure relative allelic expression and detect allelic imbalance via high-throughput sequencing under a variety of conditions. We conclude that, within a species, a minimum of 500–1000 sequencing reads per gene are needed to test for allelic imbalance, and consequently, at least five to 10 millions reads are required for studying a genome expressing 10 000 genes. Finally, using 454 sequencing, we illustrate an application of allelic expression by testing for cis-regulatory divergence between closely related Drosophila species.
PMCID: PMC3217793  PMID: 20331781
cis-regulation; Drosophila melanogaster; Drosophila simulans; gene expression; hybrids
14.  Phosphorylation network rewiring by gene duplication 
In a comprehensive analysis of phosphoregulatory evolution in yeast, the authors observe that phosphorylation sites tend to be lost after gene duplication and protein network turnover reshuffles kinase–substrate relationships over time.
Elucidating how complex regulatory networks have assembled during evolution requires a detailed understanding of the evolutionary dynamics that follow gene duplication events, including changes in post-translational modifications. We compared the phosphorylation profiles of paralogous proteins in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to that of a species that diverged from the budding yeast before the duplication of those genes. We found that 100 million years of post-duplication divergence are sufficient for the majority of phosphorylation sites to be lost or gained in one paralog or the other, with a strong bias toward losses. However, some losses may be partly compensated for by the evolution of other phosphosites, as paralogous proteins tend to preserve similar numbers of phosphosites over time. We also found that up to 50% of kinase–substrate relationships may have been rewired during this period. Our results suggest that after gene duplication, proteins tend to subfunctionalize at the level of post-translational regulation and that even when phosphosites are preserved, there is a turnover of the kinases that phosphorylate them.
PMCID: PMC3159966  PMID: 21734643
evolution; phosphorylation; PTMs; regulatory network
15.  Chromatin regulators shape the genotype–phenotype map 
PMCID: PMC3010109  PMID: 21119628
16.  Molecular characterization of the evolution of phagosomes 
First large-scale comparative proteomics/phosphoproteomics study characterizing some of the key steps that contributed to the remodeling of phagosomes that occurred during evolution. Comparison of profiling analyses of isolated phagosomes from three distant organisms (Dictyostelium, Drosophila, and mouse) revealed a protein core that defines a potential ‘ancient' phagosome and a set of 50 proteins that emerged while adaptive immunity was already well established.Gene duplication events of mouse phagosome paralogs occurred mostly in Bilateria and Euteleostomi, coinciding with the emergence of innate and adaptive immunity, and thus, provided the functional innovations needed for the establishment of these two crucial evolutionary steps of the immune system.Phosphoproteomics of isolated phagosomes from the same three distant species indicate that the phagosome phosphoproteome has been extensively modified during evolution. Still, some phosphosites have been maintained for >1.2 billion years, and thus, highlight their particular significance in the regulation of key phagosomal functions.
Phagocytosis is the process by which multiple cell types internalize large particulate material from the external milieu. The functional properties of phagosomes are acquired through a complex maturation process, referred to as phagolysosome biogenesis. This pathway involves a series of rapid interactions with organelles of the endocytic apparatus, enabling the gradual transformation of newly formed phagosomes into phagolysosomes in which proteolytic degradation occurs. The degradative environment encountered in the phagosome lumen has enabled the use of phagocytosis as a predation mechanism for feeding (phagotrophy) in amoeba, whereas multicellular organisms utilize this process as a defense mechanism to kill microbes and, in jawed vertebrates (fish), initiate a sustained immune response.
High-throughput proteomics profiling of isolated phagosomes has been tremendously helpful for the molecular comprehension of this organelle. This approach is achieved by feeding low buoyancy latex beads to phagocytic cells, enabling the subsequent isolation of latex bead-containing phagosomes, away from all the other cell organelles, by a single-isopicnic centrifugation in sucrose gradient. In order to characterize some of the key steps that contributed to the remodeling of phagosomes during evolution, we isolated this organelle from three distant organisms: the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and mouse (Mus musculus) that use phagocytosis for different purposes, and performed detailed proteomics and phosphoproteomics analyses with unparallel protein coverage for this organelle (two- to four-fold enhancements in identified proteins).
In order to establish the origin of the mouse phagosome proteome, we performed comparative analyses among 39 taxa including plants/algea, unicellular organisms, fungi, and more complex animal multicellular organisms. These genomic comparisons indicated that a large proportion of the mouse phagosome proteome is of ancient origin (73.1% of the proteome is conserved in eukaryotic organisms) (Figure 2A). This stresses the fact that phagocytosis is a very ancient process, as shown by its possible involvement in the emergence of eukaryotic cells (eukaryogenesis). Indeed, we identified close to 300 phagosome mouse proteins also present on Drosophila and Dictyostelium phagosomes, defining a potential ‘ancient' core of proteins from which the immune functions of phagosomes likely evolved. Around 16.7% of the mouse phagosome proteins appeared in organisms that use phagocytosis for innate immunity (Bilateria to Chordata), whereas 10.2% appeared in Euteleostomi or Tetrapoda where phagosomes have an important function in linking the killing of microorganisms with the development of a specific sustained immune response following antigen recognition. The phagosome is made of molecules taken from a variety of sources within the cell, including the cytoplasm, the cytoskeleton and membrane organelles. Despite the evolution and diversification of these various cellular systems, the mammalian phagosome proteome is made preferentially of ancient proteins (Figure 2B). Comparison of functional annotation during evolution highlighted the emergence of specific phagosomal functions at various steps during evolution (Figure 2C). Some of these proteins and their point of origin during evolution are highlighted in Figure 2D. Strikingly, we identified in Tetrapods a set of 50 proteins that arose while adaptive immunity was already well established in teleosts (fish), indicating that the phagocytic system is still evolving.
Our study highlights the fact that the functional properties of phagosomes emerged by the remodeling of ancient molecules, the addition of novel components, and the duplication of existing proteins (paralogs) leading to the formation of molecular machines of mixed origin. Gene duplication is a process that contributed continuously to the complexification of the mouse proteome during evolution. In sharp contrast, paralog analysis indicated that the phagosome proteome was mainly reorganized through two periods of gene duplication, in Bilateria and Euteleostomi, coinciding with the emergence of adaptive immunity (in jawed fish), and innate immunity (at the split between Metazoa and Bilateria). These results strongly suggest that selective constraints may have favored the maintenance of phagosome paralogs to ensure the establishment of novel functions associated with this organelle at these two crucial evolutionary steps of the immune system.
The emergence of genes associated to the MHC locus in mammals that appeared originally in the genome of jawed fishes, contributed to the development of complex molecular mechanisms linking innate (our immune system that defends the host from infection in a non-specific manner) and adaptive immunity (the part of the immune system triggered specifically after antigen recognition). Several of the genes of this locus encode proteins known to have important functions in antigen presentation, such as subunits of the immunoproteasome (LMP2 and LMP7), MHC class I and class II molecules, as well as tapasin and the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP1 and TAP2), involved in the transport and loading of peptides on MHC class I molecules (Figure 6). In addition to their ability to present peptides on MHC class II molecules, phagosomes of vertebrates have been shown to be competent for the presentation of exogenous peptides on MHC class I molecules, a process referred to as cross-presentation. From a functional point of view, the involvement of phagosomes in antigen cross-presentation is the outcome of the successful integration of a wide range of multimolecular components that emerged throughout evolution (Figure 6). The trimming of exogenous proteins into small peptides that can be loaded on MHC class I molecules is inherited from the phagotrophic properties of unicellular organisms, where internalized bacteria are degraded into basic molecules and used as a source of nutrients. Ancient processes have therefore been co-opted (the use of an existing biological structure or feature for a new function) for new functionalities. A summarizing model of the various steps that enabled phagosome antigen presentation is presented in Figure 6. This model highlights the fact that although antigen presentation is unique to evolutionary recent phagosomes (starting in jawed fishes about 450 million years ago), it uses and integrates molecular machines composed of proteins that emerged throughout evolution.
In summary, we present here the first large-scale comparative proteomics/phosphoproteomics study characterizing some of the key evolutionary steps that contributed to the remodeling of phagosomes during evolution. Functional properties of this organelle emerged by the remodeling of ancient molecules, the addition of novel components, the extensive adaption of protein phosphorylation sites and the duplication of existing proteins leading to the formation of molecular machines of mixed origin.
Amoeba use phagocytosis to internalize bacteria as a source of nutrients, whereas multicellular organisms utilize this process as a defense mechanism to kill microbes and, in vertebrates, initiate a sustained immune response. By using a large-scale approach to identify and compare the proteome and phosphoproteome of phagosomes isolated from distant organisms, and by comparative analysis over 39 taxa, we identified an ‘ancient' core of phagosomal proteins around which the immune functions of this organelle have likely organized. Our data indicate that a larger proportion of the phagosome proteome, compared with the whole cell proteome, has been acquired through gene duplication at a period coinciding with the emergence of innate and adaptive immunity. Our study also characterizes in detail the acquisition of novel proteins and the significant remodeling of the phagosome phosphoproteome that contributed to modify the core constituents of this organelle in evolution. Our work thus provides the first thorough analysis of the changes that enabled the transformation of the phagosome from a phagotrophic compartment into an organelle fully competent for antigen presentation.
PMCID: PMC2990642  PMID: 20959821
evolution; immunity; phosphoproteomics; phylogeny; proteomics
17.  Chromatin- and Transcription-Related Factors Repress Transcription from within Coding Regions throughout the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Genome 
PLoS Biology  2008;6(11):e277.
Previous studies in Saccharomyces cerevisiae have demonstrated that cryptic promoters within coding regions activate transcription in particular mutants. We have performed a comprehensive analysis of cryptic transcription in order to identify factors that normally repress cryptic promoters, to determine the amount of cryptic transcription genome-wide, and to study the potential for expression of genetic information by cryptic transcription. Our results show that a large number of factors that control chromatin structure and transcription are required to repress cryptic transcription from at least 1,000 locations across the S. cerevisiae genome. Two results suggest that some cryptic transcripts are translated. First, as expected, many cryptic transcripts contain an ATG and an open reading frame of at least 100 codons. Second, several cryptic transcripts are translated into proteins. Furthermore, a subset of cryptic transcripts tested is transiently induced in wild-type cells following a nutritional shift, suggesting a possible physiological role in response to a change in growth conditions. Taken together, our results demonstrate that, during normal growth, the global integrity of gene expression is maintained by a wide range of factors and suggest that, under altered genetic or physiological conditions, the expression of alternative genetic information may occur.
Author Summary
Recent studies have shown that much more of the eukaryotic genome is transcribed into RNA than previously thought. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, when particular factors are defective, cryptic promoters within several coding regions become active and produce shorter transcripts corresponding to the 3′ portions of genes. (Transcription proceeds from the 5′ end of genes to the 3′ end.) A comprehensive analysis of cryptic transcription identified the factors that normally repress this event. We find that at least 50 factors, many involved in chromatin structure and transcription, are required to repress cryptic transcription. Other results suggest that the potential for cryptic transcription is widespread, initiating from at least 1,000 locations across the S. cerevisiae genome. In mutants in which cryptic transcripts are produced, some of the transcripts are translated into proteins not normally made in unmodified, wild-type cells. Finally, in wild-type cells, a subset of cryptic transcripts is transiently induced following a nutritional shift, suggesting a possible role for cryptic transcription. Taken together, our results demonstrate that the normal pattern of gene expression is maintained by a wide range of factors and suggest that, under altered genetic or physiological conditions, the expression of alternative genetic information may occur.
Transcription from within open reading frames inS. cerevisiae, which is normally repressed by many chromatin- and transcription-related factors, has the potential to be widespread and to express alternative genetic information.
PMCID: PMC2581627  PMID: 18998772
18.  Alternative life histories shape brain gene expression profiles in males of the same population 
Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) undergo spectacular marine migrations before homing to spawn in natal rivers. However, males that grow fastest early in life can adopt an alternative ‘sneaker’ tactic by maturing earlier at greatly reduced size without leaving freshwater. While the ultimate evolutionary causes have been well studied, virtually nothing is known about the molecular bases of this developmental plasticity. We investigate the nature and extent of coordinated molecular changes that accompany such a fundamental transformation by comparing the brain transcription profiles of wild mature sneaker males to age-matched immature males (future large anadromous males) and immature females. Of the ca. 3000 genes surveyed, 15% are differentially expressed in the brains of the two male types. These genes are involved in a wide range of processes, including growth, reproduction and neural plasticity. Interestingly, despite the potential for wide variation in gene expression profiles among individuals sampled in nature, consistent patterns of gene expression were found for individuals of the same reproductive tactic. Notably, gene expression patterns in immature males were different both from immature females and sneakers, indicating that delayed maturation and sea migration by immature males, the ‘default’ life cycle, may actually result from an active inhibition of development into a sneaker.
PMCID: PMC1559854  PMID: 16087419
microarray; gene expression; plasticity; behaviour; reproduction; brain
19.  Large-scale genetic variation of the symbiosis-required megaplasmid pSymA revealed by comparative genomic analysis of Sinorhizobium meliloti natural strains 
BMC Genomics  2005;6:158.
Sinorhizobium meliloti is a soil bacterium that forms nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots of leguminous plants such as alfalfa (Medicago sativa). This species occupies different ecological niches, being present as a free-living soil bacterium and as a symbiont of plant root nodules. The genome of the type strain Rm 1021 contains one chromosome and two megaplasmids for a total genome size of 6 Mb. We applied comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) on an oligonucleotide microarrays to estimate genetic variation at the genomic level in four natural strains, two isolated from Italian agricultural soil and two from desert soil in the Aral Sea region.
From 4.6 to 5.7 percent of the genes showed a pattern of hybridisation concordant with deletion, nucleotide divergence or ORF duplication when compared to the type strain Rm 1021. A large number of these polymorphisms were confirmed by sequencing and Southern blot. A statistically significant fraction of these variable genes was found on the pSymA megaplasmid and grouped in clusters. These variable genes were found to be mainly transposases or genes with unknown function.
The obtained results allow to conclude that the symbiosis-required megaplasmid pSymA can be considered the major hot-spot for intra-specific differentiation in S. meliloti.
PMCID: PMC1298293  PMID: 16283928

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