Section 58
Chapter 57,825

Evolution of a Sigma Factor: An All-In-One of Gene Duplication, Horizontal Gene Transfer, Purifying Selection, and Promoter Differentiation

López-Leal, G.; Cevallos, M.A.; Castillo-Ramírez, S.

Frontiers in Microbiology 7: 581


ISSN/ISBN: 1664-302X
PMID: 27199915
DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00581
Accession: 057824018

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Sigma factors are an essential part of bacterial gene regulation and have been extensively studied as far as their molecular mechanisms and protein structure are concerned. However, their molecular evolution, especially for the alternative sigma factors, is poorly understood. Here, we analyze the evolutionary forces that have shaped the rpoH sigma factors within the alphaproteobacteria. We found that an ancient duplication gave rise to two major groups of rpoH sigma factors and that after this event horizontal gene transfer (HGT) occurred in rpoH 1 group. We also noted that purifying selection has differentially affected distinct parts of the gene; singularly, the gene segment that encodes the region 4.2, which interacts with the -35 motif of the RpoH-dependent genes, has been under relaxed purifying selection. Furthermore, these two major groups are clearly differentiated from one another regarding their promoter selectivity, as rpoH 1 is under the transcriptional control of σ(70) and σ(32), whereas rpoH 2 is under the transcriptional control of σ(24). Our results suggest a scenario in which HGT, gene loss, variable purifying selection and clear promoter specialization occurred after the ancestral duplication event. More generally, our study offers insights into the molecular evolution of alternative sigma factors and highlights the importance of analyzing not only the coding regions but also the promoter regions.

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