A strain of Halomonas bacteria, GFAJ-1, has been reported to be able to use arsenate as a nutrient when phosphate is limiting, and to specifically incorporate arsenic into its DNA in place of phosphorus. However, we have found that arsenate does not contribute to growth of GFAJ-1 when phosphate is limiting and that DNA purified from cells grown with limiting phosphate and abundant arsenate does not exhibit the spontaneous hydrolysis expected of arsenate ester bonds. Furthermore, mass spectrometry showed that this DNA contains only trace amounts of free arsenate and no detectable covalently bound arsenate.
High concentrations of ammonium at physiological concentrations of potassium are toxic for the standard laboratory strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In the original description of this metabolic phenotype, we focused on the standard laboratory strains of Saccharomyces. In this study, we screened a large collection of S. cerevisiae natural isolates and identified one strain that is resistant to high concentrations of ammonium. This strain, K12, was isolated in sake breweries. When the K12 strain was crossed to the standard laboratory strain (FY4), the resulting tetrads displayed 2:2 segregation of the resistance phenotype, suggesting a single gene trait. Using a bulk segregant analysis strategy, we mapped this trait to a 150-kb region on chromosome X containing the TRK1 gene. This gene encodes a transporter required for high-affinity potassium transport in S. cerevisiae. Data from reciprocal hemizygosity experiments with TRK1 deletion strains in K12 and BY backgrounds, as well as analysis of the deletion of this gene in the K12 strain, demonstrate that the K12 allele of TRK1 is responsible for ammonium toxicity resistance. Furthermore, we determined the minimal amount of potassium required for both the K12 and laboratory strain needed for growth. These results demonstrate that the gene encoded by the K12 allele of TRK1 has a greater affinity for potassium than the standard allele of TRK1 found in Saccharomyces strains. We hypothesize that this greater-affinity allele of the potassium transporter reduces the flux of ammonium into the yeast cells under conditions of ammonium toxicity. These findings further refine our understanding of ammonium toxicity in yeast and provide an example of using natural variation to understand cellular processes.
Aging and longevity are complex traits influenced by genetic and environmental factors. To identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that control replicative lifespan, we employed an outbred Saccharomyces cerevisiae model, generated by crossing a vineyard and a laboratory strain. The predominant QTL mapped to the rDNA, with the vineyard rDNA conferring a lifespan increase of 41%. The lifespan extension was independent of Sir2 and Fob1, but depended on a polymorphism in the rDNA origin of replication from the vineyard strain that reduced origin activation relative to the laboratory origin. Strains carrying vineyard rDNA origins have increased capacity for replication initiation at weak plasmid and genomic origins, suggesting that inability to complete genome replication presents a major impediment to replicative lifespan. Calorie restriction, a conserved mediator of lifespan extension that is also independent of Sir2 and Fob1, reduces rDNA origin firing in both laboratory and vineyard rDNA. Our results are consistent with the possibility that calorie restriction, similarly to the vineyard rDNA polymorphism, modulates replicative lifespan through control of rDNA origin activation, which in turn affects genome replication dynamics.
Although many aging regulators have been discovered, we are still uncovering how each contributes to the basic biology underlying cell lifespan and how certain longevity-promoting regimens, such as calorie restriction, manipulate the aging process across species. Since many cellular aging processes between human cells and budding yeast are related, we examined a collection of genetically diverse yeast and discovered that a genetic variant in vineyard yeast confers a 41% lifespan increase. The responsible sequence in the vineyard yeast reduces the amount of DNA replication that initiates at the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) locus, a chromosome-sized region of the genome that is dedicated to the production of ribosomal RNA required for protein synthesis and growth. Strikingly, we find that calorie restriction conditions also reduce rDNA replication, potentially promoting longevity by the same mechanism. While the rDNA has been previously linked to lifespan control, how this single locus affects global cell function has remained elusive. We find that a weakly replicating rDNA promotes DNA replication across the rest of the cell's genome, perhaps through the re-allocation of replication resources from decreased rDNA demand. Our findings suggest that the cell's inability to complete genome replication is one of the major impediments to yeast longevity.
Aggregation is a social behavior that varies between and within species, providing a model to study the genetic basis of behavioral diversity. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, aggregation is regulated by environmental context and by two neuromodulatory pathways, one dependent on the neuropeptide receptor NPR-1 and one dependent on the TGF-β family protein DAF-7. To gain further insight into the genetic regulation of aggregation, we characterize natural variation underlying behavioral differences between two wild-type C. elegans strains, N2 and CB4856. Using quantitative genetic techniques, including a survey of chromosome substitution strains and QTL analysis of recombinant inbred lines, we identify three new QTLs affecting aggregation in addition to the two known N2 mutations in npr-1 and glb-5. Fine-mapping with near-isogenic lines localized one QTL, accounting for 5%–8% of the behavioral variance between N2 and CB4856, 3′ to the transcript of the GABA neurotransmitter receptor gene exp-1. Quantitative complementation tests demonstrated that this QTL affects exp-1, identifying exp-1 and GABA signaling as new regulators of aggregation. exp-1 interacts genetically with the daf-7 TGF-β pathway, which integrates food availability and population density, and exp-1 mutations affect the level of daf-7 expression. Our results add to growing evidence that genetic variation affecting neurotransmitter receptor genes is a source of natural behavioral variation.
In both animals and humans, normal individuals can behave differently in the same environment. Natural variation in behavior is partly due to genetic differences between individuals and partly due to experience. Mapping studies have demonstrated that the genetic component of natural behavioral variation is complex, with many genes that each contribute a small amount to the observed behavior. This complexity has made it difficult to identify the causative genes for individual differences. Here we use the nematode worm C. elegans to dissect a social behavioral trait, the propensity to aggregate with other animals in the presence of food. We find that the behavioral differences between two wild-type worm strains result from at least five genetic differences between the strains, two of which were previously known. One of the three new loci affects a receptor for the neurotransmitter GABA, which regulates excitability in the brain. In the context of previous work, we suggest that a significant number of genes that generate behavioral variation encode neurotransmitter receptors. This analysis in a model animal may help guide discoveries of the genetic variants that affect common human behavioral traits by suggesting classes of genes to examine closely.
Responding to noxious stimuli by invoking an appropriate escape response is critical for survival of an organism. The sensations of small and large changes in temperature in most organisms have been studied separately in the context of thermotaxis and nociception, respectively. Here we use the nematode C. elegans to address the neurogenetic basis of responses to thermal stimuli over a broad range of intensities.
C. elegans responds to aversive temperature by eliciting a stereotypical behavioral sequence. Upon sensation of the noxious stimulus, it moves backwards, turns and resumes forward movement in a new direction. In order to study the response of C. elegans to a broad range of noxious thermal stimuli, we developed a novel assay that allows simultaneous characterization of multiple aspects of escape behavior elicited by thermal pulses of increasing amplitudes. We exposed the laboratory strain N2, as well as 47 strains with defects in various aspects of nervous system function, to thermal pulses ranging from ΔT = 0.4°C to 9.1°C and recorded the resulting behavioral profiles.
Through analysis of the multidimensional behavioral profiles, we found that the combinations of molecules shaping avoidance responses to a given thermal pulse are unique. At different intensities of aversive thermal stimuli, these distinct combinations of molecules converge onto qualitatively similar stereotyped behavioral sequences.
Nociception; dimensionality reduction; ethology; thermal sensation
The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is central to research in molecular, cell, and developmental biology, but nearly all of this research has been conducted on a single strain. Comparatively little is known about the population genomic and evolutionary history of this species. We characterized C. elegans genetic variation by high-throughput selective sequencing of a worldwide collection of 200 wild strains, identifying 41,188 single nucleotide polymorphisms. Unexpectedly, C. elegans genome variation is dominated by a set of commonly shared haplotypes on four of the six chromosomes, each spanning many megabases. Population-genetic modeling shows that this pattern was generated by chromosome-scale selective sweeps that have reduced variation worldwide; at least one of these sweeps likely occurred in the past few hundred years. These sweeps, which we hypothesize to be a result of human activity, have dramatically reshaped the global C. elegans population in the recent past.
A novel strategy for the quantitative measurement of allele-specific protein expression is used to infer the contributions of cis- and trans-acting factors influencing the divergence of protein levels between yeast species.
Rigorous experimental controls and analyses confirm the accuracy of the new strategy for the quantitative measurement of allele-specific protein expression by high-throughput mass spectrometry.Analysis of allele-specific protein expression in an interspecies yeast hybrid and protein expression differences between species reveals that both cis-effects and trans-effects contribute to protein expression divergence between two yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces bayanus.
Understanding the genetic basis of gene regulatory variation is a key goal of evolutionary and medical genetics. Regulatory variation can act in an allele-specific manner (cis-acting) or it can affect both alleles of a gene (trans-acting). Differential allele-specific expression (ASE), in which the expression of one allele differs from another in a diploid, implies the presence of cis-acting regulatory variation. While microarrays and high-throughput sequencing have enabled genome-wide measurements of transcriptional ASE, methods for measurement of protein ASE (pASE) have lagged far behind. We describe a flexible, accurate, and scalable strategy for measurement of pASE by liquid chromatography-coupled mass spectrometry (LC-MS). We apply this approach to a hybrid between the yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces bayanus. Our results provide the first analysis of the relative contribution of cis-acting and trans-acting regulatory differences to protein expression divergence between yeast species.
allele specific; divergence; mass spectrometry; protein expression; proteomics
Resistance of nematodes to anthelmintics such as avermectins has emerged as a major global health and agricultural problem, but genes conferring natural resistance to avermectins are unknown. We show that a naturally occurring four amino-acid deletion in the ligand-binding domain of GLC-1, the alpha-subunit of a glutamate-gated chloride channel, confers resistance to avermectins in the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We also find that the same variant confers resistance to the avermectin-producing bacterium Streptomyces avermitilis. Population-genetic analyses identified two highly divergent haplotypes at the glc-1 locus that have been maintained at intermediate frequencies by long-term balancing selection. These results implicate variation in glutamate-gated chloride channels in avermectin resistance and provide a mechanism by which such resistance can be maintained.
Ribosomal proteins are essential to life. While the functions of ribosomal protein-encoding genes (RPGs) are highly conserved, the evolution of their regulatory mechanisms is remarkably dynamic. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, RPGs are unusual in that they are commonly present as two highly similar gene copies and in that they are over-represented among intron-containing genes. To investigate the role of introns in the regulation of RPG expression, we constructed 16 S. cerevisiae strains with precise deletions of RPG introns. We found that several yeast introns function to repress rather than to increase steady-state mRNA levels. Among these, the RPS9A and RPS9B introns were required for cross-regulation of the two paralogous gene copies, which is consistent with the duplication of an autoregulatory circuit. To test for similar intron function in animals, we performed an experimental test and comparative analyses for autoregulation among distantly related animal RPS9 orthologs. Overexpression of an exogenous RpS9 copy in Drosophila melanogaster S2 cells induced alternative splicing and degradation of the endogenous copy by nonsense-mediated decay (NMD). Also, analysis of expressed sequence tag data from distantly related animals, including Homo sapiens and Ciona intestinalis, revealed diverse alternatively-spliced RPS9 isoforms predicted to elicit NMD. We propose that multiple forms of splicing regulation among RPS9 orthologs from various eukaryotes operate analogously to translational repression of the alpha operon by S4, the distant prokaryotic ortholog. Thus, RPS9 orthologs appear to have independently evolved variations on a fundamental autoregulatory circuit.
Eukaryotic genes are littered with non-coding intervening sequences, or introns, that must be precisely excised from a messenger RNA before it can be properly translated into protein. Despite their ubiquity, the evolution and function of introns remain poorly understood. Consequently, we cannot accurately predict the functions of individual introns in any organism. In this manuscript, we used a combination of comparative genomics and experimental tests to identify functional introns. First, we looked for signatures of selection to identify important introns in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which focused our attention on the introns of ribosomal protein genes. We then genetically deleted these introns to assess their function. Unlike mammalian introns, we found that yeast introns were not required for high levels of gene expression. Instead, particular introns (we focus on those within genes encoding ribosomal protein S9) were required to fine-tune gene expression through autoregulation. Surprisingly, animal orthologs of these genes also use introns to autoregulate through multiple forms of alternative splicing. We speculate that the introns of ribosomal protein genes, in particular, readily evolve means for autoregulation to meet the demanding requirements of ribosomal protein genes to maintain tight control of gene expression.
Many questions about the genetic basis of complex traits remain unanswered. This is in part due to the low statistical power of traditional genetic mapping studies. We used a statistically powerful approach, extreme QTL mapping (X-QTL), to identify the genetic basis of resistance to 13 chemicals in all 6 pairwise crosses of four ecologically and genetically diverse yeast strains, and we detected a total of more than 800 loci. We found that the number of loci detected in each experiment was primarily a function of the trait (explaining 46% of the variance) rather than the cross (11%), suggesting that the level of genetic complexity is a consistent property of a trait across different genetic backgrounds. Further, we observed that most loci had trait-specific effects, although a small number of loci with effects in many conditions were identified. We used the patterns of resistance and susceptibility alleles in the four parent strains to make inferences about the allele frequency spectrum of functional variants. We also observed evidence of more complex allelic series at a number of loci, as well as strain-specific signatures of selection. These results improve our understanding of complex traits in yeast and have implications for study design in other organisms.
Most heritable traits of agricultural, evolutionary, and medical significance are specified by multiple genetic loci. Despite decades of research, we have only a limited understanding of the genetic basis of such complex traits. Studies in model organisms have the potential to provide fundamental insights into this research area, but most genetic mapping studies in these species have had low statistical power to detect multiple loci with small effects. Using a technique in which we employed millions of cross progeny in genetic mapping, we previously showed that resistance to chemicals has a highly complex genetic basis in a cross of a lab strain and a wine strain of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Because we only examined a single cross, it was unclear how general our findings were. Here, we expand our work to all six possible crosses of four strains—the two isolates we used in our last study, as well as an isolate from an immunocompromised human being and an isolate from the sap of an oak tree. Our results based on these four ecologically and genetically distinct S. cerevisiae strains suggest that resistance to chemicals commonly exhibits a highly complex genetic basis among yeast isolates.
Eukaryotic release factors 1 and 3, encoded by SUP45 and SUP35, respectively, in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, are required for translation termination. Recent studies have shown that, besides these two key factors, several genetic and epigenetic mechanisms modulate the efficiency of translation termination. These mechanisms, through modifying translation termination fidelity, were shown to affect various cellular processes, such as mRNA degradation, and in some cases could confer a beneficial phenotype to the cell. The most studied example of such a mechanism is [PSI+], the prion conformation of Sup35p, which can have pleiotropic effects on growth that vary among different yeast strains. However, genetic loci underlying such readthrough-dependent, background-specific phenotypes have yet to be identified. Here, we used sup35C653R, a partial loss-of-function allele of the SUP35 previously shown to increase readthrough of stop codons and recapitulate some [PSI+]-dependent phenotypes, to study the genetic basis of phenotypes revealed by increased translational readthrough in two divergent yeast strains: BY4724 (a laboratory strain) and RM11_1a (a wine strain). We first identified growth conditions in which increased readthrough of stop codons by sup35C653R resulted in different growth responses between these two strains. We then used a recently developed linkage mapping technique, extreme QTL mapping (X-QTL), to identify readthrough-dependent loci for the observed growth differences. We further showed that variation in SKY1, an SR protein kinase, underlies a readthrough-dependent locus observed for growth on diamide and hydrogen peroxide. We found that the allelic state of SKY1 interacts with readthrough level and the genetic background to determine growth rate in these two conditions.
Proper termination is an important step in a successful mRNA translation event. Many factors, employing genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, are involved in modifying translation termination efficiency in the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. [PSI+], the prion conformation of Sup35p, one of the translation termination factors in yeast, provides an example of such mechanisms. [PSI+] increases readthrough of stop codons. This has the potential to unveil hidden genetic variation that may enhance growth in some yeast strains in certain environments. The specific details of readthrough-dependent phenotypes, however, have remained poorly understood. Here, we used a partial loss-of-function allele of SUP35, which increases readthrough of stop codons, and a recently developed linkage mapping technique, X-QTL, to map loci underlying readthrough-dependent growth phenotypes in two divergent yeast strains, BY (a laboratory strain) and RM (a wine strain). We found that readthrough-dependent growth phenotypes are often complex, with multiple loci influencing growth. We also showed that variants in the gene SKY1 underlie one of the loci detected for readthrough-dependent growth phenotypes in the presence of two chemicals that induce oxidative stress.
In quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics, the metabolic incorporation of a single source of 15N-labeled nitrogen has many advantages over using stable isotope-labeled amino acids. However, the lack of a robust computational framework for analyzing the resulting spectra has impeded wide use of this approach. We have addressed this challenge by introducing a new computational methodology for analyzing 15N spectra in which quantification is integrated with identification. Application of this method to an Escherichia coli growth transition reveals significant improvement in quantification accuracy over previous methods.
Innate behaviours are flexible: they change rapidly in response to transient environmental conditions, and are modified slowly by changes in the genome. A classical flexible behaviour is the exploration-exploitation decision, which describes the time at which foraging animals choose to abandon a depleting food supply. Here we use quantitative genetic analysis to examine the decision to leave a food patch in Caenorhabditis elegans. We find that patch-leaving is a multigenic trait regulated in part by naturally-occurring noncoding polymorphisms in tyra-3, which encodes a G protein-coupled catecholamine receptor related to vertebrate adrenergic receptors. tyra-3 acts in sensory neurons that detect food-related cues, suggesting that the internal catecholamines detected by tyra-3 regulate responses to external conditions. These results indicate that genetic variation and environmental cues can converge on common circuits to regulate behaviour, and suggest that catecholamines have an ancient role in regulating behavioural decisions.
Variation in the levels of co-regulated proteins that function within networks in an outbred yeast population is not driven by variation in the corresponding transcripts.
Networks of co-regulated transcripts in genetically diverse populations have been studied extensively, but little is known about the degree to which these networks cause similar co-variation at the protein level. We quantified 354 proteins in a genetically diverse population of yeast segregants, which allowed for the first time construction of a coherent protein co-variation matrix. We identified tightly co-regulated groups of 36 and 93 proteins that were made up predominantly of genes involved in ribosome biogenesis and amino acid metabolism, respectively. Even though the ribosomal genes were tightly co-regulated at both the protein and transcript levels, genetic regulation of proteins was entirely distinct from that of transcripts, and almost no genes in this network showed a significant correlation between protein and transcript levels. This result calls into question the widely held belief that in yeast, as opposed to higher eukaryotes, ribosomal protein levels are regulated primarily by regulating transcript levels. Furthermore, although genetic regulation of the amino acid network was more similar for proteins and transcripts, regression analysis demonstrated that even here, proteins vary predominantly as a result of non-transcriptional variation. We also found that cis regulation, which is common in the transcriptome, is rare at the level of the proteome. We conclude that most inter-individual variation in levels of these particular high abundance proteins in this genetically diverse population is not caused by variation of their underlying transcripts.
The level of protein produced by each gene corresponds approximately to the level of mRNA transcript produced by that gene: so high-abundance proteins, like those involved in protein synthesis, are represented by high-abundance transcripts, whereas low-abundance proteins, like those involved in signaling pathways, are represented by low-abundance transcripts. Furthermore, genetic variation can cause variation in transcript levels for the same gene between different individuals. These two observations have led to the assumption that inter-individual variation in transcript levels for any particular gene causes corresponding variation in protein levels. However, this need not be the case, because protein levels could be controlled not only by regulating transcript levels but also by regulating protein translation and stability. Because inter-individual variation in the levels of the transcript for any particular gene is typically less than 3-fold, rather than orders of magnitude, it is possible that the predominant cause of inter-individual variation in levels of any particular protein is transcription-independent regulation of protein levels. Here, we look in a genetically diverse population of 95 yeast strains at the genetic variation that leads in turn to variation in levels of 354 proteins that function within co-regulated networks. We find that the between-strain variation predominantly reflects transcription-independent mechanisms. If this result is typical of the proteome as a whole, it suggests that protein levels in genetically diverse populations cannot be accurately inferred from levels of their underlying transcripts.
Aging and longevity are considered to be highly complex genetic traits. In order to gain insight into aging as a polygenic trait, we employed an outbred Saccharomyces cerevisiae model, generated by crossing a vineyard strain RM11 and a laboratory strain S288c, to identify quantitative trait loci that control chronological lifespan. Among the major loci that regulate chronological lifespan in this cross, one genetic linkage was found to be congruent with a previously mapped locus that controls telomere length variation. We found that a single nucleotide polymorphism in BUL2, encoding a component of an ubiquitin ligase complex involved in trafficking of amino acid permeases, controls chronological lifespan and telomere length as well as amino acid uptake. Cellular amino acid availability changes conferred by the BUL2 polymorphism alter telomere length by modulating activity of a transcription factor Gln3. Among the GLN3 transcriptional targets relevant to this phenotype, we identified Wtm1, whose upregulation promotes nuclear retention of ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) components and inhibits the assembly of the RNR enzyme complex during S-phase. Inhibition of RNR is one of the mechanisms by which Gln3 modulates telomere length. Identification of a polymorphism in BUL2 in this outbred yeast population revealed a link among cellular amino acid availability, chronological lifespan, and telomere length control.
Dietary restriction promotes longevity in many species, ranging from yeast to primates, and delays aging-related pathologies including cancer in rodent models. There is considerable interest in understanding how nutrient limitation mediates these beneficial effects. Much of what we have learned about the genetics of aging comes from studying isogenic model organisms, where the effects of single gene changes can be examined independently of other genetic alterations. In order to explore a broader spectrum of genetic variation and to gain insight into aging-related phenotypes as polygenic traits, we analyzed the chronological lifespan of 122 S. cerevisiae strains derived from a cross between laboratory and vineyard yeast strains. The major genetic locus controlling chronological lifespan was found to be identical to a previously mapped locus that controls telomere length. Identification of the responsible polymorphism in BUL2, a gene involved in controlling amino acid permeases, allowed us to establish a previously unrecognized link among cellular amino acid intake, chronological aging, and telomere maintenance. While human epidemiological studies have linked shortened telomeres with increased mortality, it is unclear how these processes are connected. Our results suggest that, in yeast, reduced amino acid uptake and consequent reduced nutrient signaling extend chronological lifespan but reduce telomere length.
Translation termination is a highly controlled process in the cell. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, various regulatory factors employ genetic and epigenetic mechanisms to control this process. We used a quantitative dual luciferase reporter assay to demonstrate a difference in translation termination efficiency between two different yeast strains, BY4724 and RM11-1a. We then used a recently developed linkage mapping technique, extreme QTL mapping (X-QTL), to show that this difference is largely explained by a coding polymorphism in TRM10 (which encodes a tRNA–methylating enzyme) and a regulatory polymorphism in SUP45 (which encodes one of the yeast translation termination factors). BY and RM carry variants of TRM10 and SUP45 with opposite effects on translation termination efficiency. These variants are common among 63 diverse S. cerevisiae strains and are in strong linkage disequilibrium with each other. This observation suggests that selection may have favored allelic combinations of the two genes that maintain an intermediate level of translation termination efficiency. Our results also provide genetic evidence for a new role of Trm10p in translation termination efficiency.
Translation, the process of protein synthesis from messenger RNA (mRNA), cannot be successfully completed without proper termination. The ends of the mRNA coding regions are marked by one of the three stop codons, which are recognized by termination factors rather than by the transfer RNAs (tRNAs) that match amino acids to the corresponding codons. Like most biological processes, translation termination is not perfect. Occasionally, tRNAs bind to stop codons, resulting in polypeptides with additional amino acids beyond the normal stop position—a phenomenon known as readthrough. Perturbations that affect the balance between termination factors and tRNAs will change readthrough. Here we demonstrate the effect of two perturbations on translation termination efficiency in the context of natural genetic variation. We show that a difference in readthrough between a laboratory and a vineyard strain of yeast is largely due to two genetic variants. One variant affects the expression level of a key translation termination factor; the other modifies the activity of a tRNA–methylating enzyme. We also show that natural selection has favored an intermediate level of readthrough.
A sperm-delivered toxin and an embryo-expressed antidote form a co-adapted gene complex in C. elegans that promotes its own transmission to the detriment of organisms carrying it.
The evolutionary fate of an allele ordinarily depends on its contribution to host fitness. Occasionally, however, genetic elements arise that are able to gain a transmission advantage while simultaneously imposing a fitness cost on their hosts. We previously discovered one such element in C. elegans that gains a transmission advantage through a combination of paternal-effect killing and zygotic self-rescue. Here we demonstrate that this element is composed of a sperm-delivered toxin, peel-1, and an embryo-expressed antidote, zeel-1. peel-1 and zeel-1 are located adjacent to one another in the genome and co-occur in an insertion/deletion polymorphism. peel-1 encodes a novel four-pass transmembrane protein that is expressed in sperm and delivered to the embryo via specialized, sperm-specific vesicles. In the absence of zeel-1, sperm-delivered PEEL-1 causes lethal defects in muscle and epidermal tissue at the 2-fold stage of embryogenesis. zeel-1 is expressed transiently in the embryo and encodes a novel six-pass transmembrane domain fused to a domain with sequence similarity to zyg-11, a substrate-recognition subunit of an E3 ubiquitin ligase. zeel-1 appears to have arisen recently, during an expansion of the zyg-11 family, and the transmembrane domain of zeel-1 is required and partially sufficient for antidote activity. Although PEEL-1 and ZEEL-1 normally function in embryos, these proteins can act at other stages as well. When expressed ectopically in adults, PEEL-1 kills a variety of cell types, and ectopic expression of ZEEL-1 rescues these effects. Our results demonstrate that the tight physical linkage between two novel transmembrane proteins has facilitated their co-evolution into an element capable of promoting its own transmission to the detriment of organisms carrying it.
Natural selection typically favors only those genetic variants that increase the overall fitness of the organism. Occasionally, however, variants arise that are able to increase their representation in future generations, while simultaneously reducing the fertility or fecundity of their hosts. Although such variants occur in a wide variety of taxa, their genetic bases and molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that one such variant in the roundworm C. elegans is composed of two adjacent genes: a sperm-delivered toxin and an embryo-expressed antidote. The toxin protein is expressed in sperm and delivered to the embryo upon fertilization. In the presence of the toxin, embryos that don't inherit the antidote gene die during late embryogenesis, whereas those that do develop normally. Both the toxin and the antidote genes encode transmembrane proteins, and both are evolutionarily novel. Our results imply that the tight physical linkage between these two novel genes has facilitated their evolution into a co-adapted gene complex capable of promoting its own transmission to the detriment of host fitness.
Mutation generates the heritable variation that genetic drift and natural selection shape. In classical quantitative genetic models, drift is a function of the effective population size and acts uniformly across traits, while mutation and selection act trait-specifically. We identified thousands of quantitative trait loci (QTL) influencing transcript abundance traits in a cross of two C. elegans strains; although trait-specific mutation and selection explained some of the observed pattern of QTL distribution, the pattern was better explained by trait-independent variation in the intensity of selection on linked sites. Our results suggest that traits in C. elegans exhibit different levels of variation less because of their own attributes than because of differences in the effective population sizes of the genomic regions harboring their underlying loci.
The nematode Caenorhabditis briggsae is an emerging model organism that allows evolutionary comparisons with C. elegans and exploration of its own unique biological attributes. To produce a high-resolution C. briggsae recombination map, recombinant inbred lines were generated from reciprocal crosses between two strains and genotyped at over 1,000 loci. A second set of recombinant inbred lines involving a third strain was also genotyped at lower resolution. The resulting recombination maps exhibit discrete domains of high and low recombination, as in C. elegans, indicating these are a general feature of Caenorhabditis species. The proportion of a chromosome's physical size occupied by the central, low-recombination domain is highly correlated between species. However, the C. briggsae intra-species comparison reveals striking variation in the distribution of recombination between domains. Hybrid lines made with the more divergent pair of strains also exhibit pervasive marker transmission ratio distortion, evidence of selection acting on hybrid genotypes. The strongest effect, on chromosome III, is explained by a developmental delay phenotype exhibited by some hybrid F2 animals. In addition, on chromosomes IV and V, cross direction-specific biases towards one parental genotype suggest the existence of cytonuclear epistatic interactions. These interactions are discussed in relation to surprising mitochondrial genome polymorphism in C. briggsae, evidence that the two strains diverged in allopatry, the potential for local adaptation, and the evolution of Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities. The genetic and genomic resources resulting from this work will support future efforts to understand inter-strain divergence as well as facilitate studies of gene function, natural variation, and the evolution of recombination in Caenorhabditis nematodes.
The nematode Caenorhabditis briggsae is increasingly used for comparisons with its more famous relative, C. elegans. To improve genomic resources for C. briggsae, we created two sets of inbred lines derived from crosses between diverged C. briggsae strains. High-throughput genotyping of these has improved the resolution of the recombination map and genome assembly. It also allows detailed comparisons of recombination both within and between species. Unexpectedly, we found that alleles from one parental strain were much more likely to be fixed on three of the six chromosomes in one of the sets of lines. One of these biases is caused by a pronounced developmental delay in F2 progeny that is seen in both reciprocal crosses, whereas the other two manifest in only one of the two cross directions. This indicates that the parental strains have diverged in both nuclear and nuclear-cytoplasmic interactions, either because of local adaptation or restricted gene flow across much of the genome.
A fundamental goal in biology is to achieve a mechanistic understanding of how and to what extent ecological variation imposes selection for distinct traits and favors the fixation of specific genetic variants. Key to such an understanding is the detailed mapping of the natural genomic and phenomic space and a bridging of the gap that separates these worlds. Here we chart a high-resolution map of natural trait variation in one of the most important genetic model organisms, the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and its closest wild relatives and trace the genetic basis and timing of major phenotype changing events in its recent history. We show that natural trait variation in S. cerevisiae exceeds that of its relatives, despite limited genetic variation, and follows the population history rather than the source environment. In particular, the West African population is phenotypically unique, with an extreme abundance of low-performance alleles, notably a premature translational termination signal in GAL3 that cause inability to utilize galactose. Our observations suggest that many S. cerevisiae traits may be the consequence of genetic drift rather than selection, in line with the assumption that natural yeast lineages are remnants of recent population bottlenecks. Disconcertingly, the universal type strain S288C was found to be highly atypical, highlighting the danger of extrapolating gene-trait connections obtained in mosaic, lab-domesticated lineages to the species as a whole. Overall, this study represents a step towards an in-depth understanding of the causal relationship between co-variation in ecology, selection pressure, natural traits, molecular mechanism, and alleles in a key model organism.
An overall aim in modern biology is to achieve an in-depth understanding of an organism's physiology in the context of its ecology and historic selective pressures that have been acting on its genome. The baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, has a peculiar life history completely dominated by clonal reproduction and self-fertilization, prompting the suggestion that natural yeasts are remnants of repeated population bottlenecks in essentially clonal lineages. Such a life history dominated by mitotic proliferation purports a strong evolutionary influence of genetic drift and predicts trait variation to be high and largely defined by the genetic history of each population. Here we chart a highly resolved map of natural trait variation in S. cerevisiae and its closest non-domesticated relative, Saccharomyces paradoxus, and confirm this prediction. We found that trait variation in budding yeast is indeed high and largely defined by population rather than source environment. In particular, the West African population was found to be phenotypically unique with an extreme abundance of low-performance alleles. Our findings support the idea of population bottlenecks in the recent yeast evolutionary history and a large influence of genetic drift.
Most heritable traits, including many human diseases 1, are caused by multiple loci. Studies in both humans and model organisms, such as yeast, have failed to detect a large fraction of the loci that underlie such complex traits 2,3. A lack of statistical power to identify multiple loci with small effects is undoubtedly one of the primary reasons for this problem. We have developed a method in yeast that allows the use of dramatically larger sample sizes than previously possible and hence permits the detection of multiple loci with small effects. The method involves generating very large numbers of progeny from a cross between two strains and then phenotyping and genotyping pools of these offspring. We applied the method to 17 chemical resistance traits and mitochondrial function, and identified loci for each of these phenotypes. We show that the range of genetic complexity underlying these quantitative traits is highly variable, with some traits influenced by one major locus and others due to at least 20 loci. Our results provide an empirical demonstration of the genetic complexity of many traits and show that it is possible to identify many of the underlying factors using straightforward techniques. Our method should have broad applications in yeast and can be extended to other organisms.
Motivation: High-throughput sequencing technologies place ever increasing demands on existing algorithms for sequence analysis. Algorithms for computing maximal exact matches (MEMs) between sequences appear in two contexts where high-throughput sequencing will vastly increase the volume of sequence data: (i) seeding alignments of high-throughput reads for genome assembly and (ii) designating anchor points for genome–genome comparisons.
Results: We introduce a new algorithm for finding MEMs. The algorithm leverages a sparse suffix array (SA), a text index that stores every K-th position of the text. In contrast to a full text index that stores every position of the text, a sparse SA occupies much less memory. Even though we use a sparse index, the output of our algorithm is the same as a full text index algorithm as long as the space between the indexed suffixes is not greater than a minimum length of a MEM. By relying on partial matches and additional text scanning between indexed positions, the algorithm trades memory for extra computation. The reduced memory usage makes it possible to determine MEMs between significantly longer sequences.
Availability: Source code for the algorithm is available under a BSD open source license at http://compbio.cs.princeton.edu/mems. The implementation can serve as a drop-in replacement for the MEMs algorithm in MUMmer 3.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Although little is known about the role of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) gene in reproductive physiology, numerous variants in this gene have been implicated in etiology of male infertility due to congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD). Here, we studied the fertility effects of three CBAVD–associated CFTR polymorphisms, the (TG)m and polyT repeat polymorphisms in intron 8 and Met470Val in exon 10, in healthy men of European descent. Homozygosity for the Met470 allele was associated with lower birth rates, defined as the number of births per year of marriage (P = 0.0029). The Met470Val locus explained 4.36% of the phenotypic variance in birth rate, and men homozygous for the Met470 allele had 0.56 fewer children on average compared to Val470 carrier men. The derived Val470 allele occurs at high frequencies in non-African populations (allele frequency = 0.51 in HapMap CEU), whereas it is very rare in African population (Fst = 0.43 between HapMap CEU and YRI). In addition, haplotypes bearing Val470 show a lack of genetic diversity and are thus longer than haplotypes bearing Met470 (measured by an integrated haplotype score [iHS] of −1.93 in HapMap CEU). The fraction of SNPs in the HapMap Phase2 data set with more extreme Fst and iHS measures is 0.003, consistent with a selective sweep outside of Africa. The fertility advantage conferred by Val470 relative to Met470 may provide a selective mechanism for these population genetic observations.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common lethal recessive disorder in European-derived populations and is characterized by clinical heterogeneity that involves multiple organ systems. Over 1,600 disease-causing mutations have been identified in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) gene, but our understanding of genotype–phenotype correlations is incomplete. Male infertility is a common feature in CF patients; but, curiously, CF–causing mutations are also found in infertile men who do not exhibit any other CF–related complications. In addition, three common polymorphisms in CFTR have been associated with infertility in otherwise healthy men. We studied these three polymorphisms in fertile men and show that one, called Met470Val, is associated with variation in male fertility and shows a signature of positive selection. We suggest that the Val470 allele has risen to high frequencies in European populations due a fertility advantage but that other genetic and, possibly, environmental factors have tempered the magnitude of these effects during human evolution.
A major goal in evolutionary biology is to understand how adaptive evolution has influenced natural variation, but identifying loci subject to positive selection has been a challenge. Here we present the adaptive loss of a pair of paralogous genes in specific Saccharomyces cerevisiae subpopulations. We mapped natural variation in freeze-thaw tolerance to two water transporters, AQY1 and AQY2, previously implicated in freeze-thaw survival. However, whereas freeze-thaw–tolerant strains harbor functional aquaporin genes, the set of sensitive strains lost aquaporin function at least 6 independent times. Several genomic signatures at AQY1 and/or AQY2 reveal low variation surrounding these loci within strains of the same haplotype, but high variation between strain groups. This is consistent with recent adaptive loss of aquaporins in subgroups of strains, leading to incipient balancing selection. We show that, although aquaporins are critical for surviving freeze-thaw stress, loss of both genes provides a major fitness advantage on high-sugar substrates common to many strains' natural niche. Strikingly, strains with non-functional alleles have also lost the ancestral requirement for aquaporins during spore formation. Thus, the antagonistic effect of aquaporin function—providing an advantage in freeze-thaw tolerance but a fitness defect for growth in high-sugar environments—contributes to the maintenance of both functional and nonfunctional alleles in S. cerevisiae. This work also shows that gene loss through multiple missense and nonsense mutations, hallmarks of pseudogenization presumed to emerge after loss of constraint, can arise through positive selection.
Local adaptation is thought to be a driving force in population differentiation and the formation of new species. Yet, there are few examples of ecologically relevant phenotypes that have been mapped to individual genes, making it difficult to know what drives the evolution of such genes and contributes to the molecular mechanisms underlying divergence. Here, we provide a unique case of local adaptation through multi-gene loss. We mapped the genetic basis for natural variation in yeast freeze-thaw tolerance to two water transporters, AQY1 and AQY2. Although tolerant strains harbor functional alleles of both genes, the set of sensitive strains lost aquaporins at least 6 independent times, through missense mutations and frame-shifting deletions. Genome-wide scans reveal several signatures of recent, partial selective sweeps at the aquaporin loci, indicating positive selection for gene loss. This was likely driven by a major fitness advantage of aquaporin loss when cells grow in high sugar concentrations common to many strains' niche. Surprisingly, strains that lost aquaporins also lost the ancestral requirement for these genes during sexual reproduction. This work provides a compelling example of how gene loss through nonsense mutations, a hallmark of pseudogenization, is caused not by loss of constraint but by positive selection.