Neanderthals had our de novo genes
John Stewart Taylor
In 2009 Knowles and McLysaght reported the discovery of three human genes derived from non-coding DNA. They provided evidence that these genes, CLUU1, C22orf45, and DNAH10OS, were transcribed and translated, they identified orthologous non-coding DNA in chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and macaque (Macaca mulatta), and for each gene they located the critical ?enabler? mutations that extended the open reading frames (ORFs) allowing the production of a protein. These genes had no BLASTp hits in any other genome and were considered to be novel human genes, possibly responsible for human-specific traits. Since the discovery of these genes, new high quality Denisovan and Neanderthal genomes have been reported. I used these resources in an effort to determine whether or not CLUU1, C22orf45, and DNAH10OS were truly human-specific.
The life cycle of Drosophila orphan genes
Nicola Palmieri, Carolin Kosiol, Christian Schlötterer
(Submitted on 20 Jan 2014)
Orphans are genes restricted to a single phylogenetic lineage and emerge at high rates. While this predicts an accumulation of genes, the gene number has remained remarkably constant through evolution. This paradox has not yet been resolved. Because orphan genes have been mainly analyzed over long evolutionary time scales, orphan loss has remained unexplored. Here we study the patterns of orphan turnover among close relatives in the Drosophila obscura group. We show that orphans are not only emerging at a high rate, but that they are also rapidly lost. Interestingly, recently emerged orphans are more likely to be lost than older ones. Furthermore, highly expressed orphans with a strong male-bias are more likely to be retained. Since both lost and retained orphans show similar evolutionary signatures of functional conservation, we propose that orphan loss is not driven by high rates of sequence evolution, but reflects lineage specific functional requirements.
Palaeosymbiosis revealed by genomic fossils of Wolbachia in a strongyloidean nematode
Georgios Koutsovoulos, Benjamin Makepeace, Vincent N. Tanya, Mark Blaxter
(Submitted on 10 Jan 2014)
Wolbachia are common endosymbionts of terrestrial arthropods, and are also found in nematodes: the animal-parasitic filaria, and the plant-parasite Radopholus similis. Lateral transfer of Wolbachia DNA to the host genome is common. We generated a draft genome sequence for the strongyloidean nematode parasite Dictyocaulus viviparus, the cattle lungworm. In the assembly, we identified nearly 1 Mb of sequence with similarity to Wolbachia. The fragments were unlikely to derive from a live Wolbachia infection: most were short, and the genes were disabled through inactivating mutations. Many fragments were co-assembled with definitively nematode-derived sequence. We found limited evidence of expression of the Wolbachia-derived genes. The D. viviparus Wolbachia genes were most similar to filarial strains, and strains from the host-promiscuous clade F. We conclude that D. viviparus was infected by Wolbachia in the past. Genome sequence based surveys are a powerful tool for revealing the genome archaeology of infection and symbiosis.
On the concept of biological function, junk DNA and the gospels of ENCODE and Graur et al.
Claudiu I Bandea
In a recent article entitled On the immortality of television sets: “function” in the human genome according to the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE, Graur et al. dismantle ENCODEs evidence and conclusion that 80% of the human genome is functional. However, the article by Graur et al. contains assumptions and statements that are questionable. Primarily, the authors limit their evaluation of DNAs biological functions to informational roles, sidestepping putative non-informational functions. Here, I bring forward an old hypothesis on the evolution of genome size and on the role of so called junk DNA (jDNA), which might explain C-value enigma. According to this hypothesis, the jDNA functions as a defense mechanism against insertion mutagenesis by endogenous and exogenous inserting elements such as retroviruses, thereby protecting informational DNA sequences from inactivation or alteration of their expression. Notably, this model couples the mechanisms and the selective forces responsible for the origin of jDNA with its putative protective biological function, which represents a classic case of fighting fire with fire. One of the key tenets of this theory is that in humans and many other species, jDNAs serves as a protective mechanism against insertional oncogenic transformation. As an adaptive defense mechanism, the amount of protective DNA varies from one species to another based on the rate of its origin, insertional mutagenesis activity, and evolutionary constraints on genome size.
The genomic landscape of meiotic crossovers and gene conversions in Arabidopsis thaliana
Erik Wijnker, Geo Velikkakam James, Jia Ding, Frank Becker, Jonas R. Klasen, Vimal Rawat, Beth A. Rowan, Daniel F. de Jong, C. Bastiaan de Snoo, Luis Zapata, Bruno Huettel, Hans de Jong, Stephan Ossowski, Detlef Weigel, Maarten Koornneef, Joost J.B. Keurentjes, Korbinian Schneeberger
(Submitted on 13 Nov 2013)
Knowledge of the exact distribution of meiotic crossovers (COs) and gene conversions (GCs) is essential for understanding many aspects of population genetics and evolution, from haplotype structure and long-distance genetic linkage to the generation of new allelic variants of genes. To this end, we resequenced the four products of 13 meiotic tetrads along with 10 doubled haploids derived from Arabidopsis thaliana hybrids. GC detection through short reads has previously been confounded by genomic rearrangements. Rigid filtering for misaligned reads allowed GC identification at high accuracy and revealed an ~80-kb transposition, which undergoes copy-number changes mediated by meiotic recombination. Non-crossover associated GCs were extremely rare most likely due to their short average length of ~25-50 bp, which is significantly shorter than the length of CO associated GCs. Overall, recombination preferentially targeted non-methylated nucleosome-free regions at gene promoters, which showed significant enrichment of two sequence motifs.
Sequencing and characterisation of rearrangements in three S. pastorianus strains reveals the presence of chimeric genes and gives evidence of breakpoint reuse
Sarah K. Hewitt, Ian Donaldson, Simon C. Lovell, Daniela Delneri
(Submitted on 8 Nov 2013)
Gross chromosomal rearrangements have the potential to be evolutionarily advantageous to an adapting organism. The generation of a hybrid species increases opportunity for recombination by bringing together two homologous genomes. We sought to define the location of genomic rearrangements in three strains of Saccharomyces pastorianus, a natural lager-brewing yeast hybrid of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces eubayanus, using whole genome shotgun sequencing. Each strain of S. pastorianus has lost species-specific portions of its genome and has undergone extensive recombination, producing chimeric chromosomes. We predicted 30 breakpoints that we confirmed at the single nucleotide level by designing species-specific primers that flank each breakpoint, and then sequencing the PCR product. These rearrangements are the result of recombination between areas of homology between the two subgenomes, rather than repetitive elements such as transposons or tRNAs. Interestingly, 28/30 S. cerevisiae- S. eubayanus recombination breakpoints are located within genic regions, generating chimeric genes. Furthermore we show evidence for the reuse of two breakpoints, located in HSP82 and KEM1, in strains of proposed independent origin.
Comparative Assembly Hubs: Web Accessible Browsers for Comparative Genomics
Ngan Nguyen, Glenn Hickey, Brian J. Raney, Joel Armstrong, Hiram Clawson, Ann Zweig, Jim Kent, David Haussler, Benedict Paten
(Submitted on 5 Nov 2013)
We introduce a pipeline to easily generate collections of web accessible UCSC genome browsers interrelated by an alignment. Using the alignment, all annotations and the alignment itself can be efficiently viewed with reference to any genome in the collection, symmetrically. A new, intelligently scaled alignment display makes it simple to view all changes between the genomes at all levels of resolution, from substitutions to complex structural rearrangements, including duplications.
Joint assembly and genetic mapping of the Atlantic horseshoe crab genome reveals ancient whole genome duplication
Carlos Nossa, Paul Havlak, Jia-Xing Yue, Jie Lv, Kim Vincent, H Jane Brockmann, Nicholas H Putnam
(Submitted on 28 Sep 2013)
Horseshoe crabs are marine arthropods with a fossil record extending back approximately 450 million years. They exhibit remarkable morphological stability over their long evolutionary history, retaining a number of ancestral arthropod traits, and are often cited as examples of “living fossils.” As arthropods, they belong to the Ecdysozoa}, an ancient super-phylum whose sequenced genomes (including insects and nematodes) have thus far shown more divergence from the ancestral pattern of eumetazoan genome organization than cnidarians, deuterostomes, and lophotrochozoans. However, much of ecdysozoan diversity remains unrepresented in comparative genomic analyses. Here we use a new strategy of combined de novo assembly and genetic mapping to examine the chromosome-scale genome organization of the Atlantic horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus. We constructed a genetic linkage map of this 2.7 Gbp genome by sequencing the nuclear DNA of 34 wild-collected, full-sibling embryos and their parents at a mean redundancy of 1.1x per sample. The map includes 84,307 sequence markers and 5,775 candidate conserved protein coding genes. Comparison to other metazoan genomes shows that the L. polyphemus genome preserves ancestral bilaterian linkage groups, and that a common ancestor of modern horseshoe crabs underwent one or more ancient whole genome duplications (WGDs) ~ 300 MYA, followed by extensive chromosome fusion.
The epigenome of evolving Drosophila neo-sex chromosomes: dosage compensation and heterochromatin formation
Qi Zhou, Christopher E. Ellison, Vera B. Kaiser, Artyom A. Alekseyenko, Andrey A. Gorchakov, Doris Bachtrog
(Submitted on 26 Sep 2013)
Drosophila Y chromosomes are composed entirely of silent heterochromatin, while male X chromosomes have highly accessible chromatin and are hypertranscribed due to dosage compensation. Here, we dissect the molecular mechanisms and functional pressures driving heterochromatin formation and dosage compensation of the recently formed neo-sex chromosomes of Drosophila miranda. We show that the onset of heterochromatin formation on the neo-Y is triggered by an accumulation of repetitive DNA. The neo-X has evolved partial dosage compensation and we find that diverse mutational paths have been utilized to establish several dozen novel binding consensus motifs for the dosage compensation complex on the neo-X, including simple point mutations at pre-binding sites, insertion and deletion mutations, microsatellite expansions, or tandem amplification of weak binding sites. Spreading of these silencing or activating chromatin modifications to adjacent regions results in massive mis-expression of neo-sex linked genes, and little correspondence between functionality of genes and their silencing on the neo-Y or dosage compensation on the neo-X. Intriguingly, the genomic regions being targeted by the dosage compensation complex on the neo-X and those becoming heterochromatic on the neo-Y show little overlap, possibly reflecting different propensities along the ancestral chromosome to adopt active or repressive chromatin configurations. Our findings have broad implications for current models of sex chromosome evolution, and demonstrate how mechanistic constraints can limit evolutionary adaptations. Our study also highlights how evolution can follow predictable genetic trajectories, by repeatedly acquiring the same 21-bp consensus motif for recruitment of the dosage compensation complex, yet utilizing a diverse array of random mutational changes to attain the same phenotypic outcome.
Lineage specific reductions in genome size in salamanders are associated with increased rates of mutation
John Herrick, Bianca Sclavi
(Submitted on 4 Aug 2013)
Very low levels of genetic diversity have been reported in vertebrates with large genomes, notably salamanders and lungfish [1-3]. Interpreting differences in heterozygosity, which reflects genetic diversity in a population, is complicated because levels of heterozygosity vary widely between conspecific populations, and correlate with many different physiological and demographic variables such as body size and effective population size. Here we return to the question of genetic variability in salamanders, and report on the relationship between evolutionary rates and genome sizes in five different salamander families. We found that rates of evolution are exceptionally low in salamanders as a group. Evolutionary rates are as low as those reported for cartilaginous fish, which have the slowest rates recorded so far in vertebrates . We also found that, independent of life history, salamanders with the smallest genomes (14 pg) are evolving at rates two to three times faster than salamanders with the largest genomes (>50 pg). After accounting for evolutionary duration, we conclude that speciation events in salamanders are associated with contractions in genome size and concomitant increases in mutation and diversification rates.