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Bridging cellular reproduction and survival is essential for all life forms. Aspergillus fungi primarily reproduce by forming asexual spores called conidia, whose formation and maturation is governed by the central genetic regulatory circuit BrlA→AbaA→WetA. Here, we report that WetA is a multi-functional regulator that couples spore differentiation and survival, and governs proper chemical development in Aspergillus flavus. The deletion of wetA results in the formation of conidia with defective cell walls and no intra-cellular trehalose, leading to reduced stress tolerance, a rapid loss of viability, and disintegration of spores. WetA is also required for normal vegetative growth, hyphal branching, and production of aflatoxins. Targeted and genome-wide expression analyses reveal that WetA exerts feedback control of brlA and that 5,700 genes show altered mRNA levels in the mutant conidia. Functional category analyses of differentially expressed genes in ΔwetA RNA-seq data indicate that WetA contributes to spore integrity and maturity by properly regulating the metabolic pathways of trehalose, chitin, α-(1,3)-glucan, β-(1,3)-glucan, melanin, hydrophobins, and secondary metabolism more generally. Moreover, 160 genes predicted to encode transcription factors are differentially expressed by the absence of wetA, suggesting that WetA may play a global regulatory role in conidial development. Collectively, we present a comprehensive model for developmental control that bridges spore differentiation and survival in A. flavus.
Due to the importance of in wine-making, the genomic variation of wine yeast strains has been extensively studied. One of the major insights stemming from these studies is that wine yeast strains harbor low levels of genetic diversity in the form of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Genomic structural variants, such as copy number (CN) variants, are another major type of variation segregating in natural populations. To test whether genetic diversity in CN variation is also low across wine yeast strains, we examined genome-wide levels of CN variation in 132 whole-genome sequences of wine strains. We found an average of 97.8 CN variable regions (CNVRs) affecting ∼4% of the genome per strain. Using two different measures of CN diversity, we found that gene families involved in fermentation-related processes such as copper resistance (), flocculation (), and glucose metabolism (), as well as the gene family whose members are expressed before or during the diauxic shift, showed substantial CN diversity across the 132 strains examined. Importantly, these same gene families have been shown, through comparative transcriptomic and functional assays, to be associated with adaptation to the wine fermentation environment. Our results suggest that CN variation is a substantial contributor to the genomic diversity of wine yeast strains, and identify several candidate loci whose levels of CN variation may affect the adaptation and performance of wine yeast strains during fermentation.
Copyright © 2017 Steenwyk and Rokas.
Genetic suppression occurs when the phenotypic defects caused by a mutation in a particular gene are rescued by a mutation in a second gene. To explore the principles of genetic suppression, we examined both literature-curated and unbiased experimental data, involving systematic genetic mapping and whole-genome sequencing, to generate a large-scale suppression network among yeast genes. Most suppression pairs identified novel relationships among functionally related genes, providing new insights into the functional wiring diagram of the cell. In addition to suppressor mutations, we identified frequent secondary mutations,in a subset of genes, that likely cause a delay in the onset of stationary phase, which appears to promote their enrichment within a propagating population. These findings allow us to formulate and quantify general mechanisms of genetic suppression.
Copyright © 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) among bacteria, archaea, and viruses is widespread, but the extent of transfers from these lineages into eukaryotic organisms is contentious. Here we systematically identify hundreds of genes that were likely acquired horizontally from a variety of sources by the early-diverging fungal phyla Microsporidia and Cryptomycota. Interestingly, the Microsporidia have acquired via HGT several genes involved in nucleic acid synthesis and salvage, such as those encoding thymidine kinase (TK), cytidylate kinase, and purine nucleotide phosphorylase. We show that these HGT-derived nucleic acid synthesis genes tend to function at the interface between the metabolic networks of the host and pathogen. Thus, these genes likely play vital roles in diversifying the useable nucleic acid components available to the intracellular parasite, often through the direct capture of resources from the host. Using an in vivo viability assay, we also demonstrate that one of these genes, TK, encodes an enzyme that is capable of activating known prodrugs to their active form, which suggests a possible treatment route for microsporidiosis. We further argue that interfacial genes with well-understood activities, especially those horizontally transferred from bacteria or viruses, could provide medical treatments for microsporidian infections.
Reduced metabolic efficiency, toxic intermediate accumulation, and deficits of molecular building blocks, which all stem from disruptions of flux through metabolic pathways, reduce organismal fitness. Although these represent shared selection pressures across organisms, the genetic signatures of the responses to them may differ. In fungi, a frequently observed signature is the physical linkage of genes from the same metabolic pathway. In contrast, human metabolic genes are rarely tightly linked; rather, they tend to show tissue-specific coexpression. We hypothesized that the physical linkage of fungal metabolic genes and the tissue-specific coexpression of human metabolic genes are divergent yet analogous responses to the range of selective pressures imposed by disruptions of flux. To test this, we examined the degree to which the human homologs of physically linked metabolic genes in fungi (fungal linked homologs or FLOs) are coexpressed across six human tissues. We found that FLOs are significantly more correlated in their expression profiles across human tissues than other metabolic genes. We obtained similar results in analyses of the same six tissues from chimps, gorillas, orangutans, and macaques. We suggest that when selective pressures remain stable across large evolutionary distances, evidence of selection in a given evolutionary lineage can become a highly reliable predictor of the signature of selection in another, even though the specific adaptive response in each lineage is markedly different.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fungi that have the enzymes cyanase and carbonic anhydrase show a limited capacity to detoxify cyanate, a fungicide employed by both plants and humans. Here, we describe a novel two-gene cluster that comprises duplicated cyanase and carbonic anhydrase copies, which we name the CCA gene cluster, trace its evolution across Ascomycetes, and examine the evolutionary dynamics of its spread among lineages of the Fusarium oxysporum species complex (hereafter referred to as the FOSC), a cosmopolitan clade of purportedly clonal vascular wilt plant pathogens. Phylogenetic analysis of fungal cyanase and carbonic anhydrase genes reveals that the CCA gene cluster arose independently at least twice and is now present in three lineages, namely Cochliobolus lunatus, Oidiodendron maius, and the FOSC. Genome-wide surveys within the FOSC indicate that the CCA gene cluster varies in copy number across isolates, is always located on accessory chromosomes, and is absent in FOSC's closest relatives. Phylogenetic reconstruction of the CCA gene cluster in 163 FOSC strains from a wide variety of hosts suggests a recent history of rampant transfers between isolates. We hypothesize that the independent formation of the CCA gene cluster in different fungal lineages and its spread across FOSC strains may be associated with resistance to plant-produced cyanates or to use of cyanate fungicides in agriculture.
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Many fundamental biological processes are studied using the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Here we report the construction of a set of 281 haploid gene deletion strains covering many previously uncharacterized genes. This collection of strains was tested for growth under a variety of different stress conditions. We identified new genes involved in DNA metabolism, completion of the cell cycle, and morphogenesis. This subset of nonessential gene deletions will add to the toolkits available for the study of biological processes in S. pombe.
Copyright © 2015 Chen et al.
Fungi contain a remarkable range of metabolic pathways, sometimes encoded by gene clusters, enabling them to digest most organic matter and synthesize an array of potent small molecules. Although metabolism is fundamental to the fungal lifestyle, we still know little about how major evolutionary processes, such as gene duplication (GD) and horizontal gene transfer (HGT), have interacted with clustered and non-clustered fungal metabolic pathways to give rise to this metabolic versatility. We examined the synteny and evolutionary history of 247,202 fungal genes encoding enzymes that catalyze 875 distinct metabolic reactions from 130 pathways in 208 diverse genomes. We found that gene clustering varied greatly with respect to metabolic category and lineage; for example, clustered genes in Saccharomycotina yeasts were overrepresented in nucleotide metabolism, whereas clustered genes in Pezizomycotina were more common in lipid and amino acid metabolism. The effects of both GD and HGT were more pronounced in clustered genes than in their non-clustered counterparts and were differentially distributed across fungal lineages; specifically, GD, which was an order of magnitude more abundant than HGT, was most frequently observed in Agaricomycetes, whereas HGT was much more prevalent in Pezizomycotina. The effect of HGT in some Pezizomycotina was particularly strong; for example, we identified 111 HGT events associated with the 15 Aspergillus genomes, which sharply contrasts with the 60 HGT events detected for the 48 genomes from the entire Saccharomycotina subphylum. Finally, the impact of GD within a metabolic category was typically consistent across all fungal lineages, whereas the impact of HGT was variable. These results indicate that GD is the dominant process underlying fungal metabolic diversity, whereas HGT is episodic and acts in a category- or lineage-specific manner. Both processes have a greater impact on clustered genes, suggesting that metabolic gene clusters represent hotspots for the generation of fungal metabolic diversity.
Because genes can be constrained by selection at more than one phenotypic level, the relaxation of constraints following gene duplication allows for functional divergence (FD) along multiple phenotypic axes. Many studies have generated individual measures of FD, but the profile of FD between paralogs across levels of phenotypic space remains largely uncharted. We evaluate paralog pairs that originated via the yeast whole-genome duplication (ohnolog pairs) at three distinct phenotypic levels (properties of proteins, gene expression, and overall organismal growth) using eight complementary measures of FD (protein: evolutionary rates, radical amino acid substitutions, and domain architecture; gene expression: expression differences in a single species and condition, across species in a single condition, and in a single species across conditions; and organismal: genetic interaction profiles and growth profiles in multiple conditions). We find that the majority of ohnolog pairs show FD by multiple phenotypic measures. Within each phenotypic level, measures of FD are strongly correlated but are generally weakly correlated between levels, suggesting that functional constraints exerted on genes from distinct phenotypic levels are largely decoupled. Our results suggest that redundancy is a rare functional fate for retained paralogs and that FD cannot be fully captured by measures at any single phenotypic level.
Gene clusters encoding accessory or environmentally specialized metabolic pathways likely play a significant role in the evolution of fungal genomes. Two such gene clusters encoding enzymes associated with the tyrosine metabolism pathway (KEGG #00350) have been identified in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus fumigatus. The l-tyrosine degradation (TD) gene cluster encodes a functional module that facilitates breakdown of the phenolic amino acid, l-tyrosine through a homogentisate intermediate, but is also involved in the production of pyomelanin, a fungal pathogenicity factor. The gentisate catabolism (GC) gene cluster encodes a functional module likely involved in phenolic compound degradation, which may enable metabolism of biphenolic stilbenes in multiple lineages. Our investigation of the evolution of the TD and GC gene clusters in 214 fungal genomes revealed spotty distributions partially shaped by gene cluster loss and horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Specifically, a TD gene cluster shows evidence of HGT between the extremophilic, melanized fungi Exophiala dermatitidis and Baudoinia compniacensis, and a GC gene cluster shows evidence of HGT between Sordariomycete and Dothideomycete grass pathogens. These results suggest that the distribution of specialized tyrosine metabolism modules is influenced by both the ecology and phylogeny of fungal species.