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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 24;9(1):e86088. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086088. eCollection 2014.

Encoding asymmetry of the N-glycosylation motif facilitates glycoprotein evolution.

Author information

1
Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2
Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada ; Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada ; Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
3
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary, Cell & Systems Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
4
Department of Neurology, University of California, Irvine, California, United States of America ; Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Irvine, California, United States of America.

Abstract

Protein N-glycosylation is found in all domains of life and has a conserved role in glycoprotein folding and stability. In animals, glycoproteins transit through the Golgi where the N-glycans are trimmed and rebuilt with sequences that bind lectins, an innovation that greatly increases structural diversity and redundancy of glycoprotein-lectin interaction at the cell surface. Here we ask whether the natural tension between increasing diversity (glycan-protein interactions) and site multiplicity (backup and status quo) might be revealed by a phylogenic examination of glycoproteins and NXS/T(X ≠ P) N-glycosylation sites. Site loss is more likely by mutation at Asn encoded by two adenosine (A)-rich codons, while site gain is more probable by generating Ser or Thr downstream of an existing Asn. Thus mutations produce sites at novel positions more frequently than the reversal of recently lost sites, and therefore more paths though sequence space are made available to natural selection. An intra-species comparison of secretory and cytosolic proteins revealed a departure from equilibrium in sequences one-mutation-away from NXS/T and in (A) content, indicating strong selective pressures and exploration of N-glycosylation positions during vertebrate evolution. Furthermore, secretory proteins have evolved at rates proportional to N-glycosylation site number, indicating adaptive interactions between the N-glycans and underlying protein. Given the topology of the genetic code, mutation of (A) is more often nonsynonomous, and Lys, another target of many PTMs, is also encoded by two (A)-rich codons. An examination of acetyl-Lys sites in proteins indicated similar evolutionary dynamics, consistent with asymmetry of the target and recognition portions of modified sites. Our results suggest that encoding asymmetry is an ancient mechanism of evolvability that increases diversity and experimentation with PTM site positions. Strong selective pressures on PTMs may have contributed to the A+T → G+C shift in genome-wide nucleotide composition during metazoan radiation.

PMID:
24475074
PMCID:
PMC3901687
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0086088
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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