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Orthology confers intron position conservation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.
2010 (English)In: BMC Genomics, ISSN 1471-2164, E-ISSN 1471-2164, Vol. 11:412Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: With the wealth of genomic data available it has become increasingly important to assign putative protein function through functional transfer between orthologs. Therefore, correct elucidation of the evolutionary relationships among genes is a critical task, and attempts should be made to further improve the phylogenetic inference by adding relevant discriminating features. It has been shown that introns can maintain their position over long evolutionary timescales. For this reason, it could be possible to use conservation of intron positions as a discriminating factor when assigning orthology. Therefore, we wanted to investigate whether orthologs have a higher degree of intron position conservation (IPC) compared to non-orthologous sequences that are equally similar in sequence.

Results: To this end, we developed a new score for IPC and applied it to ortholog groups between human and six other species. For comparison, we also gathered the closest non-orthologs, meaning sequences close in sequence space, yet falling just outside the ortholog cluster. We found that ortholog-ortholog gene pairs on average have a significantly higher degree of IPC compared to ortholog-closest non-ortholog pairs. Also pairs of inparalogs were found to have a higher IPC score than inparalog-closest non-inparalog pairs. We verified that these differences can not simply be attributed to the generally higher sequence identity of the ortholog-ortholog and the inparalog-inparalog pairs. Furthermore, we analyzed the agreement between IPC score and the ortholog score assigned by the InParanoid algorithm, and found that it was consistently high for all species comparisons. In a minority of cases, the IPC and InParanoid score ranked inparalogs differently. These represent cases where sequence and intron position divergence are discordant. We further analyzed the discordant clusters to identify any possible preference for protein functions by looking for enriched GO terms and Pfam protein domains. They were enriched for functions important for multicellularity, which implies a connection between shifts in intronic structure and the origin of multicellularity.

Conclusions: We conclude that orthologous genes tend to have more conserved intron positions compared to non-orthologous genes. As a consequence, our IPC score is useful as an additional discriminating factor when assigning orthology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 11:412
National Category
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
Research subject
Biochemistry with Emphasis on Theoretical Chemistry
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-49467DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-11-412ISI: 000280399500001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-49467DiVA: diva2:378090
Note
authorCount :3Available from: 2010-12-15 Created: 2010-12-14 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The relationship between orthology, protein domain architecture and protein function
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The relationship between orthology, protein domain architecture and protein function
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Lacking experimental data, protein function is often predicted from evolutionary and protein structure theory. Under the 'domain grammar' hypothesis the function of a protein follows from the domains it encodes. Under the 'orthology conjecture', orthologs, related through species formation, are expected to be more functionally similar than paralogs, which are homologs in the same or different species descended from a gene duplication event. However, these assumptions have not thus far been systematically evaluated.

To test the 'domain grammar' hypothesis, we built models for predicting function from the domain combinations present in a protein, and demonstrated that multi-domain combinations imply functions that the individual domains do not. We also developed a novel gene-tree based method for reconstructing the evolutionary histories of domain architectures, to search for cases of architectures that have arisen multiple times in parallel, and found this to be more common than previously reported.

To test the 'orthology conjecture', we first benchmarked methods for homology inference under the obfuscating influence of low-complexity regions, in order to improve the InParanoid orthology inference algorithm. InParanoid was then used to test the relative conservation of functionally relevant properties between orthologs and paralogs at various evolutionary distances, including intron positions, domain architectures, and Gene Ontology functional annotations.

We found an increased conservation of domain architectures in orthologs relative to paralogs, in support of the 'orthology conjecture' and the 'domain grammar' hypotheses acting in tandem. However, equivalent analysis of Gene Ontology functional conservation yielded spurious results, which may be an artifact of species-specific annotation biases in functional annotation databases. I discuss possible ways of circumventing this bias so the 'orthology conjecture' can be tested more conclusively.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Stockholm University, 2011. 112 p.
Keyword
homology, orthology, paralogy, gene duplications, protein function prediction, low-complexity regions, protein domains, domain architecture evolution, introns, intron position conservation, orthology conjecture, domain grammar hypothesis
National Category
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
Research subject
Biochemistry with Emphasis on Theoretical Chemistry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-62152 (URN)978-91-7447-350-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-10-24, Magnélisalen, Kemiska övningslaboratoriet, Svante Arrhenius väg 16 B, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 6: Epub ahead of print.Available from: 2011-10-02 Created: 2011-09-09 Last updated: 2011-10-06Bibliographically approved

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