Extensive Intra-Kingdom Horizontal Gene Transfer Converging on a Fungal Fructose Transporter Gene

Marco A. Coelho, Carla Gonçalves, José Paulo Sampaio, Paula Gonçalves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Comparative genomics revealed in the last decade a scenario of rampant horizontal gene transfer (HGT) among prokaryotes, but for fungi a clearly dominant pattern of vertical inheritance still stands, punctuated however by an increasing number of exceptions. In the present work, we studied the phylogenetic distribution and pattern of inheritance of a fungal gene encoding a fructose transporter (FSY1) with unique substrate selectivity. 109 FSY1 homologues were identified in two sub-phyla of the Ascomycota, in a survey that included 241 available fungal genomes. At least 10 independent inter-species instances of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) involving FSY1 were identified, supported by strong phylogenetic evidence and synteny analyses. The acquisition of FSY1 through HGT was sometimes suggestive of xenolog gene displacement, but several cases of pseudoparalogy were also uncovered. Moreover, evidence was found for successive HGT events, possibly including those responsible for transmission of the gene among yeast lineages. These occurrences do not seem to be driven by functional diversification of the Fsy1 proteins because Fsy1 homologues from widely distant lineages, including at least one acquired by HGT, appear to have similar biochemical properties. In summary, retracing the evolutionary path of the FSY1 gene brought to light an unparalleled number of independent HGT events involving a single fungal gene. We propose that the turbulent evolutionary history of the gene may be linked to the unique biochemical properties of the encoded transporter, whose predictable effect on fitness may be highly variable. In general, our results support the most recent views suggesting that inter-species HGT may have contributed much more substantially to shape fungal genomes than heretofore assumed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1003587
JournalPLoS Genetics
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

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