Functional divergence in a multi-gene family is a key evolutionary innovation for anaerobic growth in Saccharomyces cerevisiae


D. Krause and C. Hittinger "Functional divergence in a multi-gene family is a key evolutionary innovation for anaerobic growth in Saccharomyces cerevisiae" Molecular Biology and Revolution 39 (2022) [DOI:10.1093/molbev/msac202]


The amplification and diversification of genes into large multi-gene families often mark key evolutionary innovations, but this process often creates genetic redundancy that hinders functional investigations. When the model budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae transitions to anaerobic growth conditions, the cell massively induces the expression of seven serine/threonine-rich anaerobically-induced cell wall mannoproteins (anCWMPs): TIP1, TIR1, TIR2, TIR3, TIR4, DAN1, and DAN4. Here, we show that these genes likely derive evolutionarily from a single ancestral anCWMP locus, which was duplicated and translocated to new genomic contexts several times both prior to and following the budding yeast whole genome duplication (WGD) event. Based on synteny and their phylogeny, we separate the anCWMPs into four gene subfamilies. To resolve prior inconclusive genetic investigations of these genes, we constructed a set of combinatorial deletion mutants to determine their contributions toward anaerobic growth in S. cerevisiae. We found that two genes, TIR1 and TIR3, were together necessary and sufficient for the anCWMP contribution to anaerobic growth. Overexpressing either gene alone was insufficient for anaerobic growth, implying that they encode non-overlapping functional roles in the cell during anaerobic growth. We infer from the phylogeny of the anCWMP genes that these two important genes derive from an ancient duplication that predates the WGD event, whereas the TIR1 subfamily experienced gene family amplification after the WGD event. Taken together, the genetic and molecular evidence suggests that one key anCWMP gene duplication event, several auxiliary gene duplication events, and functional divergence underpin the evolution of anaerobic growth in budding yeasts.

Data Access

The data underlying this article are available in the article and in its online supplementary material.

Phylogenetic relationships