The triplet nature of the genetic code is considered a universal feature of known organ-isms. However, frequent stop codons at internal mRNA positions in Euplotes ciliates ultimately specify ribosomal frameshifting by one or two nucleotides depending on the context, thus posing a nontriplet feature of the genetic code of these organisms. Here, we sequenced transcriptomes of eight Euplotes species and assessed evolution-ary patterns arising at frameshift sites. We show that frameshift sites are currently accumulating more rapidly by genetic drift than they are removed by weak selection. The time needed to reach the mutational equilibrium is several times longer than the age of Euplotes and is expected to occur after a several-fold increase in the frequency of frameshift sites. This suggests that Euplotes are at an early stage of the spread of frameshifting in expression of their genome. In addition, we find the net fitness burden of frameshift sites to be noncritical for the survival of Euplotes. Our results suggest that fundamental genome-wide changes such as a violation of the triplet char-acter of genetic code can be introduced and maintained solely by neutral evolution

Nontriplet feature of genetic code in Euplotes ciliates is a result of neutral evolution

Adriana Vallesi;
2023-01-01

Abstract

The triplet nature of the genetic code is considered a universal feature of known organ-isms. However, frequent stop codons at internal mRNA positions in Euplotes ciliates ultimately specify ribosomal frameshifting by one or two nucleotides depending on the context, thus posing a nontriplet feature of the genetic code of these organisms. Here, we sequenced transcriptomes of eight Euplotes species and assessed evolution-ary patterns arising at frameshift sites. We show that frameshift sites are currently accumulating more rapidly by genetic drift than they are removed by weak selection. The time needed to reach the mutational equilibrium is several times longer than the age of Euplotes and is expected to occur after a several-fold increase in the frequency of frameshift sites. This suggests that Euplotes are at an early stage of the spread of frameshifting in expression of their genome. In addition, we find the net fitness burden of frameshift sites to be noncritical for the survival of Euplotes. Our results suggest that fundamental genome-wide changes such as a violation of the triplet char-acter of genetic code can be introduced and maintained solely by neutral evolution
2023
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11581/472903
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