Chimeric protein complexes in hybrid species generate novel evolutionary phenotypes

Chimeric protein complexes in hybrid species generate novel evolutionary phenotypes
Elzbieta M. Piatkowska, David Knight, Daniela Delneri
(Submitted on 19 Sep 2012)
Hybridization between species is an important mechanism for the origin of novel lineages and adaptation to new environments. Increased allelic variation and modification of the transcriptional network are the two recognized forces currently deemed to be responsible for the phenotypic properties seen in hybrids. However, since the majority of the biological functions in a cell are carried out by protein complexes, inter-specific protein assemblies therefore represent another important source of natural variation upon which evolutionary forces can act. Here we studied the composition of six protein complexes in two different Saccharomyces “sensu strictu” hybrids, to understand whether chimeric interactions can be freely formed in the cell in spite of species-specific co-evolutionary forces, and whether the different types of complexes cause a change in hybrid fitness. The protein assemblies were isolated from the hybrids via affinity chromatography and identified via mass spectrometry. We found evidence of spontaneous chimericity for four of the six protein assemblies tested and we showed that different types of complexes can cause a variety of phenotypes in selected environments. In the case of TRP2/TRP3 complex, the effect of such chimeric formation resulted in the fitness advantage of the hybrid in an environment lacking tryptophan, while only one type of parental combination of the MBF complex could confer viability to the hybrid under respiratory conditions. This study provides empirical evidence that chimeric protein complexes can freely assemble in cells and reveals a new mechanism to generate phenotypic novelty and plasticity in hybrids to complement the genomic innovation resulting from gene duplication. The ability to exchange orthologous members has also important implications for the adaptation and subsequent genome evolution of the hybrids in terms of pattern of gene loss.

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