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Gene. 2011 Apr 1;475(1):22-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2010.12.009. Epub 2010 Dec 30.

Gene recruitment--a common mechanism in the evolution of transfer RNA gene families.

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1
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

Abstract

The evolution of alloacceptor transfer RNAs (tRNAs) has been traditionally thought to occur vertically and reflect the evolution of the genetic code. Yet there have been several indications that a tRNA gene could evolve horizontally, from a copy of an alloacceptor tRNA gene in the same genome. Earlier, we provided the first unambiguous evidence for the occurrence of such "tRNA gene recruitment" in nature--in the mitochondrial (mt) genome of the demosponge Axinella corrugata. Yet the extent and the pattern of this process in the evolution of tRNA gene families remained unclear. Here we analyzed tRNA genes from 21 mt genomes of demosponges as well as nuclear genomes of rhesus macaque, chimpanzee and human. We found four new cases of alloacceptor tRNA gene recruitment in mt genomes and eleven cases in the nuclear genomes. In most of these cases we observed a single nucleotide substitution at the middle position of the anticodon, which resulted in the change of not only the tRNA's amino-acid identity but also the class of the amino-acyl tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) involved in amino-acylation. We hypothesize that the switch to a different class of aaRSs may have prevented the conflict between anticodon and amino-acid identities of recruited tRNAs. Overall our results suggest that gene recruitment is a common phenomenon in tRNA multigene family evolution and should be taken into consideration when tRNA evolutionary history is reconstructed.

PMID:
21195140
DOI:
10.1016/j.gene.2010.12.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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