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.
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