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Fitness trade-offs determine the role of the molecular chaperonin GroEL in buffering mutations


Sabater-Muñoz, Beatriz; Prats-Escriche, Maria; Montagud-Martínez, Roser; López-Cerdán, Adolfo; Toft, Christina; Aguilar-Rodríguez, José; Wagner, Andreas; Fares, Mario A (2015). Fitness trade-offs determine the role of the molecular chaperonin GroEL in buffering mutations. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 32(10):2681-2693.

Abstract

Molecular chaperones fold many proteins and their mutated versions in a cell and can sometimes buffer the phenotypic effect of mutations that affect protein folding. Unanswered questions about this buffering include the nature of its mechanism, its influence on the genetic variation of a population, the fitness trade-offs constraining this mechanism, and its role in expediting evolution. Answering these questions is fundamental to understand the contribution of buffering to increase genetic variation and ecological diversification. Here, we performed experimental evolution, genome resequencing, and computational analyses to determine the trade-offs and evolutionary trajectories of Escherichia coli expressing high levels of the essential chaperonin GroEL. GroEL is abundantly present in bacteria, particularly in bacteria with large loads of deleterious mutations, suggesting its role in mutational buffering. We show that groEL overexpression is costly to large populations evolving in the laboratory, leading to groE expression decline within 66 generations. In contrast, populations evolving under the strong genetic drift characteristic of endosymbiotic bacteria avoid extinction or can be rescued in the presence of abundant GroEL. Genomes resequenced from cells evolved under strong genetic drift exhibited significantly higher tolerance to deleterious mutations at high GroEL levels than at native levels, revealing that GroEL is buffering mutations in these cells. GroEL buffered mutations in a highly diverse set of proteins that interact with the environment, including substrate and ion membrane transporters, hinting at its role in ecological diversification. Our results reveal the fitness trade-offs of mutational buffering and how genetic variation is maintained in populations.

Abstract

Molecular chaperones fold many proteins and their mutated versions in a cell and can sometimes buffer the phenotypic effect of mutations that affect protein folding. Unanswered questions about this buffering include the nature of its mechanism, its influence on the genetic variation of a population, the fitness trade-offs constraining this mechanism, and its role in expediting evolution. Answering these questions is fundamental to understand the contribution of buffering to increase genetic variation and ecological diversification. Here, we performed experimental evolution, genome resequencing, and computational analyses to determine the trade-offs and evolutionary trajectories of Escherichia coli expressing high levels of the essential chaperonin GroEL. GroEL is abundantly present in bacteria, particularly in bacteria with large loads of deleterious mutations, suggesting its role in mutational buffering. We show that groEL overexpression is costly to large populations evolving in the laboratory, leading to groE expression decline within 66 generations. In contrast, populations evolving under the strong genetic drift characteristic of endosymbiotic bacteria avoid extinction or can be rescued in the presence of abundant GroEL. Genomes resequenced from cells evolved under strong genetic drift exhibited significantly higher tolerance to deleterious mutations at high GroEL levels than at native levels, revealing that GroEL is buffering mutations in these cells. GroEL buffered mutations in a highly diverse set of proteins that interact with the environment, including substrate and ion membrane transporters, hinting at its role in ecological diversification. Our results reveal the fitness trade-offs of mutational buffering and how genetic variation is maintained in populations.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:27 June 2015
Deposited On:11 Feb 2016 13:07
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 18:04
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0737-4038
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msv144
PubMed ID:26116858

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