Evolution of the sex-related locus and genomic features shared in microsporidia and fungi.
BACKGROUND: Microsporidia are obligate intracellular, eukaryotic pathogens that infect a wide range of animals from nematodes to humans, and in some cases, protists. The preponderance of evidence as to the origin of the microsporidia reveals a close relationship with the fungi, either within the kingdom or as a sister group to it. Recent phylogenetic studies and gene order analysis suggest that microsporidia share a particularly close evolutionary relationship with the zygomycetes. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here we expanded this analysis and also examined a putative sex-locus for variability between microsporidian populations. Whole genome inspection reveals a unique syntenic gene pair (RPS9-RPL21) present in the vast majority of fungi and the microsporidians but not in other eukaryotic lineages. Two other unique gene fusions (glutamyl-prolyl tRNA synthetase and ubiquitin-ribosomal subunit S30) that are present in metazoans, choanoflagellates, and filasterean opisthokonts are unfused in the fungi and microsporidians. One locus previously found to be conserved in many microsporidian genomes is similar to the sex locus of zygomycetes in gene order and architecture. Both sex-related and sex loci harbor TPT, HMG, and RNA helicase genes forming a syntenic gene cluster. We sequenced and analyzed the sex-related locus in 11 different Encephalitozoon cuniculi isolates and the sibling species E. intestinalis (3 isolates) and E. hellem (1 isolate). There was no evidence for an idiomorphic sex-related locus in this Encephalitozoon species sample. According to sequence-based phylogenetic analyses, the TPT and RNA helicase genes flanking the HMG genes are paralogous rather than orthologous between zygomycetes and microsporidians. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: The unique genomic hallmarks between microsporidia and fungi are independent of sequence based phylogenetic comparisons and further contribute to define the borders of the fungal kingdom and support the classification of microsporidia as unusual derived fungi. And the sex/sex-related loci appear to have been subject to frequent gene conversion and translocations in microsporidia and zygomycetes.
Lee, SC; Corradi, N; Doan, S; Dietrich, FS; Keeling, PJ; Heitman, J
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