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Genome Res. 2008 Jul;18(7):1092-9. doi: 10.1101/gr.076174.108. Epub 2008 May 7.

The extensive and condition-dependent nature of epistasis among whole-genome duplicates in yeast.

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  • 1Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E1, Canada.


Since complete redundancy between extant duplicates (paralogs) is evolutionarily unfavorable, some degree of functional congruency is eventually lost. However, in budding yeast, experimental evidence collected for duplicated metabolic enzymes and in global physical interaction surveys had suggested widespread functional overlap between paralogs. While maintained functional overlap is thought to confer robustness against genetic mutation and facilitate environmental adaptability, it has yet to be determined what properties define paralogs that can compensate for the phenotypic consequence of deleting a sister gene, how extensive this epistasis is, and how adaptable it is toward alternate environmental states. To this end, we have performed a comprehensive experimental analysis of epistasis as indicated by aggravating genetic interactions between paralogs resulting from an ancient whole-genome duplication (WGD) event occurring in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and thus were able to compare properties of large numbers of epistatic and non-epistatic paralogs with identical evolutionary times since divergence. We found that more than one-third (140) of the 399 examinable WGD paralog pairs were epistatic under standard laboratory conditions and that additional cases of epistasis became obvious only under media conditions designed to induce cellular stress. Despite a significant increase in within-species sequence co-conservation, analysis of protein interactions revealed that paralogs epistatic under standard laboratory conditions were not more functionally overlapping than those non-epistatic. As experimental conditions had an impact on the functional categorization of paralogs deemed epistatic and only a fraction of potential stress conditions have been interrogated here, we hypothesize that many epistatic relationships remain unresolved.

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