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PLoS Comput Biol. 2014 Jul 10;10(7):e1003683. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003683. eCollection 2014 Jul.

Biophysical fitness landscapes for transcription factor binding sites.

Author information

1
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, United States of America.
2
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, United States of America; BioMaPS Institute for Quantitative Biology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, United States of America.

Abstract

Phenotypic states and evolutionary trajectories available to cell populations are ultimately dictated by complex interactions among DNA, RNA, proteins, and other molecular species. Here we study how evolution of gene regulation in a single-cell eukaryote S. cerevisiae is affected by interactions between transcription factors (TFs) and their cognate DNA sites. Our study is informed by a comprehensive collection of genomic binding sites and high-throughput in vitro measurements of TF-DNA binding interactions. Using an evolutionary model for monomorphic populations evolving on a fitness landscape, we infer fitness as a function of TF-DNA binding to show that the shape of the inferred fitness functions is in broad agreement with a simple functional form inspired by a thermodynamic model of two-state TF-DNA binding. However, the effective parameters of the model are not always consistent with physical values, indicating selection pressures beyond the biophysical constraints imposed by TF-DNA interactions. We find little statistical support for the fitness landscape in which each position in the binding site evolves independently, indicating that epistasis is common in the evolution of gene regulation. Finally, by correlating TF-DNA binding energies with biological properties of the sites or the genes they regulate, we are able to rule out several scenarios of site-specific selection, under which binding sites of the same TF would experience different selection pressures depending on their position in the genome. These findings support the existence of universal fitness landscapes which shape evolution of all sites for a given TF, and whose properties are determined in part by the physics of protein-DNA interactions.

PMID:
25010228
PMCID:
PMC4091707
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003683
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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