Purifying and directional selection in overlapping prokaryotic genes.
ABSTRACT In overlapping genes, the same DNA sequence codes for two proteins using different reading frames. Analysis of overlapping genes can help in understanding the mode of evolution of a coding region from noncoding DNA. We identified 71 pairs of convergent genes, with overlapping 3' ends longer than 15 nucleotides, that are conserved in at least two prokaryotic genomes. Among the overlap regions, we observed a statistically significant bias towards the 123:132 phase (i.e. the second codon base in one gene facing the degenerate third position in the second gene). This phase ensures the least mutual constraint on nonconservative amino acid replacements in both overlapping coding sequences. The excess of this phase is compatible with directional (positive) selection acting on the overlapping coding regions. This could be a general evolutionary mode for genes emerging from noncoding sequences, in which the protein sequence has not been subject to selection.
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ABSTRACT: Mechanisms regulating gene expression in malaria parasites are not well understood. Little is known about how the parasite regulates its gene expression during transition from one developmental stage to another and in response to various environmental conditions. Parasites in a diseased host face environments which differ from the static, well adapted in vitro conditions. Parasites thus need to adapt quickly and effectively to these conditions by establishing transcriptional states which are best suited for better survival. With the discovery of natural antisense transcripts (NATs) in this parasite and considering the various proposed mechanisms by which NATs might regulate gene expression, it has been speculated that these might be playing a critical role in gene regulation. We report here the diversity of NATs in this parasite, using isolates taken directly from patients with differing clinical symptoms caused by malaria infection. Using a custom designed strand specific whole genome microarray, a total of 797 NATs targeted against annotated loci have been detected. Out of these, 545 NATs are unique to this study. The majority of NATs were positively correlated with the expression pattern of the sense transcript. However, 96 genes showed a change in sense/antisense ratio on comparison between uncomplicated and complicated disease conditions. The antisense transcripts map to a broad range of biochemical/ metabolic pathways, especially pathways pertaining to the central carbon metabolism and stress related pathways. Our data strongly suggests that a large group of NATs detected here are unannotated transcription units antisense to annotated gene models. The results reveal a previously unknown set of NATs that prevails in this parasite, their differential regulation in disease conditions and mapping to functionally well annotated genes. The results detailed here call for studies to deduce the possible mechanism of action of NATs, which would further help in understanding the in vivo pathological adaptations of these parasites.Experimental Parasitology 03/2014; · 2.15 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Overlapping genes are two protein-coding sequences sharing a significant part of the same DNA locus in different reading frames. Although in recent times an increasing number of examples have been found in bacteria the underlying mechanisms of their evolution are unknown. In this work we explore how selective pressure in a protein-coding sequence influences its overlapping genes in alternative reading frames. We model evolution using a time-continuous Markov process and derive the corresponding model for the remaining frames to quantify selection pressure and genetic noise. Our findings lead to the presumption that, once information is embedded in the reverse reading frame -2 (relative to the mother gene in +1) purifying selection in the protein-coding reading frame automatically protects the sequences in both frames. We also found that this coincides with the fact that the genetic noise measured using the conditional entropy is minimal in frame -2 under selection in the coding frame.PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(10):e108768. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The forces underlying genome architecture and organization are still only poorly understood in detail. Overlapping genes (genes partially or entirely overlapping) represent a genomic feature that is shared widely across biological organisms ranging from viruses to multi-cellular organisms. In bacteria, a third of the annotated genes are involved in an overlap. Despite the widespread nature of this arrangement, its evolutionary origins and biological ramifications have so far eluded explanation.BMC genomics. 08/2014; 15(1):721.