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Estimating the fitness effect of an insertion sequence


Bichsel, Manuel; Barbour, A D; Wagner, Andreas (2013). Estimating the fitness effect of an insertion sequence. Journal of Mathematical Biology, 66(1-2):95-114.

Abstract

Since its discovery, mobile DNA has fascinated researchers. In particular, many researchers have debated why insertion sequences persist in prokaryote genomes and populations. While some authors think that insertion sequences persist only because of occasional beneficial effects they have on their hosts, others argue that horizontal gene transfer is strong enough to overcome their generally detrimental effects. In this study, we model the long-term fate of a prokaryote cell population, of which a small proportion of cells has been infected with one insertion sequence per cell. Based on our model and the distribution of IS5, an insertion sequence for which sufficient data is available in 525 fully sequenced proteobacterial genomes, we show that the fitness cost of insertion sequences is so small that they are effectively neutral or only slightly detrimental. We also show that an insertion sequence infection can persist and reach the empirically observed distribution if the rate of horizontal gene transfer is at least as large as the fitness cost, and that this rate is well within the rates of horizontal gene transfer observed in nature. In addition, we show that the time needed to reach the observed prevalence of IS5 is unrealistically long for the fitness cost and horizontal gene transfer rate that we computed. Occasional beneficial effects may thus have played an important role in the fast spreading of insertion sequences like IS5.

Abstract

Since its discovery, mobile DNA has fascinated researchers. In particular, many researchers have debated why insertion sequences persist in prokaryote genomes and populations. While some authors think that insertion sequences persist only because of occasional beneficial effects they have on their hosts, others argue that horizontal gene transfer is strong enough to overcome their generally detrimental effects. In this study, we model the long-term fate of a prokaryote cell population, of which a small proportion of cells has been infected with one insertion sequence per cell. Based on our model and the distribution of IS5, an insertion sequence for which sufficient data is available in 525 fully sequenced proteobacterial genomes, we show that the fitness cost of insertion sequences is so small that they are effectively neutral or only slightly detrimental. We also show that an insertion sequence infection can persist and reach the empirically observed distribution if the rate of horizontal gene transfer is at least as large as the fitness cost, and that this rate is well within the rates of horizontal gene transfer observed in nature. In addition, we show that the time needed to reach the observed prevalence of IS5 is unrealistically long for the fitness cost and horizontal gene transfer rate that we computed. Occasional beneficial effects may thus have played an important role in the fast spreading of insertion sequences like IS5.

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Additional indexing

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:2013
Deposited On:07 Feb 2013 14:25
Last Modified:16 Feb 2018 17:30
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0303-6812
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00285-012-0504-2
PubMed ID:22252506

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