Gene Decay in Shigella as an Incipient Stage of Host-Adaptation

Abstract

BACKGROUND Many facultative bacterial pathogens have undergone extensive gene decay processes, possibly due to lack of selection pressure during evolutionary conversion from free-living to intracellular lifestyle. Shigella, the causative agents of human shigellosis, have arisen from different E. coli-like ancestors independently by convergent paths. As these bacteria all have lost large numbers of genes by mutation or deletion, they can be used as ideal models for systematically studying the process of gene function loss in different bacteria living under similar selection pressures. METHODOLOGIES/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS We compared the sequenced Shigella genomes and re-defined decayed genes (pseudogenes plus deleted genes) in these bacteria. Altogether, 85 genes are commonly decayed in the five analyzed Shigella strains and 1456 genes are decayed in at least one Shigella strain. Genes coding for carbon utilization, cell motility, transporter or membrane proteins are prone to be inactivated. Decayed genes tend to concentrate in certain operons rather than distribute averagely across the whole genome. Genes in the decayed operon accumulated more non-synonymous mutations than the rest genes and meanwhile have lower expression levels. CONCLUSIONS Different Shigella lineages underwent convergent gene decay processes, and inactivation of one gene would lead to a lesser selection pressure for the other genes in the same operon. The pool of superfluous genes for Shigella may contain at least two thousand genes and the gene decay processes may still continue in Shigella until a minimum genome harboring only essential genes is reached.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027754

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@inproceedings{Feng2011GeneDI, title={Gene Decay in Shigella as an Incipient Stage of Host-Adaptation}, author={Ye Feng and Zhe Chen and Shu-Lin Liu}, booktitle={PloS one}, year={2011} }