Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License


In bacterial chromosomes, the position of a gene relative to the single origin of replication generally reflects its replication timing, how often it is expressed, and consequently, its rate of evolution. However, because some archaeal genomes contain multiple origins of replication, bias in gene dosage caused by delayed replication should be minimized and hence the substitution rate of genes should associate less with chromosome position. To test this hypothesis, six archaeal genomes from the genus Sulfolobus containing three origins of replication were selected, conserved orthologs were identified, and the evolutionary rates (dN and dS) of these orthologs were quantified. Ortholog families were grouped by their consensus position and designated by their proximity to one of the three origins (O1, O2, O3). Conserved orthologs were concentrated near the origins and most variation in genome content occurred distant from the origins. Linear regressions of both synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution rates on distance from replication origins were significantly positive, the rates being greatest in the region furthest from any of the origins and slowest among genes near the origins. Genes near O1 also evolved faster than those near O2 and O3, which suggest that this origin may fire later in the cell cycle. Increased evolutionary rates and gene dispensability are strongly associated with reduced gene expression caused in part by reduced gene dosage during the cell cycle. Therefore, in this genus of Archaea as well as in many Bacteria, evolutionary rates and variation in genome content associate with replication timing.


Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences

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Genome Biology and Evolution


Oxford University Press

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© The Author(s) 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.