Phylogenetic Mapping of Intron Positions: A Case Study of Translation Initiation Factor eIF2

Department of Genetics, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Impact Factor: 9.11). 02/2005; 22(1):74-84. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msh255
Source: PubMed


Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2) is a G protein that delivers the methionyl initiator tRNA to the small ribosomal subunit and releases it upon GTP hydrolysis after the recognition of the initiation codon. eIF2 is composed of three subunits, alpha, beta, and gamma. Subunit gamma shows the strongest conservation, and it confers both tRNA and GTP/GDP binding. Using intron positioning and protein sequence alignment, here we show that eIF2gamma is a suitable phylogenetic marker for eukaryotes. We determined or completed the sequences of 13 arthropod eIF2gamma genes. Analyzing the phylogenetic distribution of 52 different intron positions in 55 distantly related eIF2gamma genes, we identified ancient ones and shared derived introns in our data set. Obviously, intron positioning in eIF2gamma is evolutionarily conserved. However, there were episodes of complete and partial intron losses followed by intron gains. We identified 17 clusters of intron positions based on their distribution. The evolution of these clusters appears to be connected with preferred exon length and can be used to estimate the relative timing of intron gain because nearby precursor introns had to be erased from the gene before the new introns could be inserted. Moreover, we identified a putative case of intron sliding that constitutes a synapomorphic character state supporting monophyly of Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, and Diptera excluding Hymenoptera. We also performed tree reconstructions using the eIF2gamma protein sequences and intron positioning as phylogenetic information. Our results support the monophyly of Viridoplantae, Ascomycota, Homobasidiomyceta, and Apicomplexa.

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    • "However, multiple parallel intron gain and/or loss events may mask the real phylogenetic signal. While the occurrence of multiple independent intron loss events has been reported (Cho et al. 2004; Krauss et al. 2005; Roy and Gilbert 2005), the importance of parallel intron gain in intron evolution is still under discussion. Several studies reported cases of independent insertions of introns at the same position (Li et al. 2009; Ahmadinejad et al. 2010), and two large-scale analyses of intron evolution have reached very different conclusions regarding the frequency of parallel intron insertions (Sverdlov et al. 2005; Qiu et al. 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Many deep evolutionary divergences still remain unresolved, such as those among major taxa of the Lophotrochozoa. As alternative phylogenetic markers, the intron-exon structure of eukaryotic genomes and the patterns of absence and presence of spliceosomal introns appear to be promising. However, given the potential homoplasy of intron presence, the phylogenetic analysis of this data using standard evolutionary approaches has remained a challenge. Here, we used Mutual Information (MI) to estimate the phylogeny of Protostomia using gene structure data, and we compared these results with those obtained with Dollo Parsimony. Using full genome sequences from nine Metazoa, we identified 447 groups of orthologous sequences with 21,732 introns in 4,870 unique intron positions. We determined the shared absence and presence of introns in the corresponding sequence alignments and have made this data available in "IntronBase", a web-accessible and downloadable SQLite database. Our results obtained using Dollo Parsimony are obviously misled through systematic errors that arise from multiple intron loss events, but extensive filtering of data improved the quality of the estimated phylogenies. Mutual Information, in contrast, performs better with larger datasets, but at the same time it requires a complete data set, which is difficult to obtain for orthologs from a large number of taxa. Nevertheless, Mutual Information-based distances proved to be useful in analyzing this kind of data, also because the estimation of MI-based distances is independent of evolutionary models and therefore no pre-definitions of ancestral and derived character states are necessary.
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    • "In previous work, we found some evidence that NIPs arise not only from uncoupled, successive processes of intron loss and intron gain, but also from intron sliding (Krauss et al., 2005, 2008; Lehmann et al., 2010). For Drosophila we could show that some of the younger NIPs were indeed caused by shifts of splice donor and acceptor sites in relation to conserved CDS (Lehmann et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Gene structure data can substantially advance our understanding of metazoan evolution and deliver an independent approach to resolve conflicts among existing hypotheses. Here, we used changes of spliceosomal intron positions as novel phylogenetic marker to reconstruct the animal tree. This kind of data is inferred from orthologous genes containing mutually exclusive introns at pairs of sequence positions in close proximity, so-called near intron pairs (NIPs). NIP data were collected for 48 species and utilized as binary genome-level characters in maximum parsimony (MP) analyses to reconstruct deep metazoan phylogeny. All groupings that were obtained with more than 80% bootstrap support are consistent with currently supported phylogenetic hypotheses. This includes monophyletic Chordata, Vertebrata, Nematoda, Platyhelminthes and Trochozoa. Several other clades such as Deuterostomia, Protostomia, Arthropoda, Ecdysozoa, Spiralia, and Eumetazoa, however, failed to be recovered due to a few problematic taxa such as the mite Ixodesand the warty comb jelly Mnemiopsis. The corresponding unexpected branchings can be explained by the paucity of synapomorphic changes of intron positions shared between some genomes, by the sensitivity of MP analyses to long-branch attraction (LBA), and by the very unequal evolutionary rates of intron loss and intron gain during evolution of the different subclades of metazoans. In addition, we obtained an assemblage of Cnidaria, Porifera, and Placozoa as sister group of Bilateria + Ctenophora with medium support, a disputable, but remarkable result. We conclude that NIPs can be used as phylogenetic characters also within a broader phylogenetic context, given that they have emerged regularly during evolution irrespective of the large variation of intron density across metazoan genomes.
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    • "We show that the cross-talk between anteroposterior and dorsoventral patterning, seen in Tribolium, is conserved in honeybee. Honeybees are hymenoptera and considered to be the most basal branch of holometabolous insects (Krauss et al., 2005; Savard et al., 2006; Zdobnov and Bork, 2007), indicating this is an ancestral character in holometabolous insects. It seems that Otd "
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