1887

Abstract

Prokaryote genome evolution is characterized by the frequent gain of genes through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). For a gene, being horizontally transferred can represent a strong change in its genomic and physiological context. If the codon usage of a transferred gene deviates from that of the receiving organism, the fitness benefits it provides can be reduced due to a mismatch with the expression machinery. Consequently, transferred genes with a deviating codon usage can be selected against or elicit evolutionary responses that enhance their integration, such as gene amelioration and compensatory evolution. Within bacterial species, the extent and relative importance of these different mechanisms has never been considered altogether. In this study, a phylogeny-based method was used to investigate the occurrence of these different evolutionary responses in . Selection on codon usage of genes acquired through HGT was observed over evolutionary time, with the overall codon usage converging towards that of the core genome. Gene amelioration, through the accumulation of synonymous mutations after HGT, did not seem to systematically affect transferred genes. This pattern therefore seemed to be mainly driven by selective retention of transferred genes with an initial codon usage similar to that of the core genes. Additionally, variation in the copy number of tRNA genes was often associated with the acquisition of genes for which the observed variation could enhance their expression. This provides evidence that compensatory evolution might be an important mechanism for the integration of horizontally transferred genes.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Award ANR-19-CE45-0012)
    • Principle Award Recipient: CelineScornavacca
  • European Research Council () (Award 682819)
    • Principle Award Recipient: StéphanieBedhomme
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2021-06-24
2021-07-29
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