Cryptic genetic variation enhances primate L1 retrotransposon survival by enlarging the functional coiled coil sequence space of ORF1p

Autoři: Anthony V. Furano aff001;  Charlie E. Jones aff001;  Vipul Periwal aff002;  Kathryn E. Callahan aff001;  Jean-Claude Walser aff001;  Pamela R. Cook aff001
Působiště autorů: Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America aff001;  Laboratory of Biological Modeling, NIDDK, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: Cryptic genetic variation enhances primate L1 retrotransposon survival by enlarging the functional coiled coil sequence space of ORF1p. PLoS Genet 16(8): e32767. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008991
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008991


Accounting for continual evolution of deleterious L1 retrotransposon families, which can contain hundreds to thousands of members remains a major issue in mammalian biology. L1 activity generated upwards of 40% of some mammalian genomes, including humans where they remain active, causing genetic defects and rearrangements. L1 encodes a coiled coil-containing protein that is essential for retrotransposition, and the emergence of novel primate L1 families has been correlated with episodes of extensive amino acid substitutions in the coiled coil. These results were interpreted as an adaptive response to maintain L1 activity, however its mechanism remained unknown. Although an adventitious mutation can inactivate coiled coil function, its effect could be buffered by epistatic interactions within the coiled coil, made more likely if the family contains a diverse set of coiled coil sequences—collectively referred to as the coiled coil sequence space. Amino acid substitutions that do not affect coiled coil function (i.e., its phenotype) could be “hidden” from (not subject to) purifying selection. The accumulation of such substitutions, often referred to as cryptic genetic variation, has been documented in various proteins. Here we report that this phenomenon was in effect during the latest episode of primate coiled coil evolution, which occurred 30–10 MYA during the emergence of primate L1Pa7–L1Pa3 families. First, we experimentally demonstrated that while coiled coil function (measured by retrotransposition) can be eliminated by single epistatic mutations, it nonetheless can also withstand extensive amino acid substitutions. Second, principal component and cluster analysis showed that the coiled coil sequence space of each of the L1Pa7-3 families was notably increased by the presence of distinct, coexisting coiled coil sequences. Thus, sampling related networks of functional sequences rather than traversing discrete adaptive states characterized the persistence L1 activity during this evolutionary event.

Klíčová slova:

Amino acid substitution – Epistasis – Evolutionary genetics – Nucleic acids – Phylogenetic analysis – Primates – Principal component analysis – Sequence alignment


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2020 Číslo 8

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