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Title: Divergent evolution and purifying selection of the flaA gene sequences in Aeromonas
Author: Farfán Sellarés, Maribel
Miñana i Galbis, David
Fusté Munné, M. Carme
Lorén Egea, José Gaspar
Keywords: Evolució molecular
Bacteris patògens
Genètica bacteriana
Molecular evolution
Pathogenic bacteria
Bacterial genetics
Issue Date: 21-Jul-2009
Publisher: BioMed Central
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The bacterial flagellum is the most important organelle of motility in bacteria and plays a key role in many bacterial lifestyles, including virulence. The flagellum also provides a paradigm of how hierarchical gene regulation, intricate protein-protein interactions and controlled protein secretion can result in the assembly of a complex multi-protein structure tightly orchestrated in time and space. As if to stress its importance, plants and animals produce receptors specifically dedicated to the recognition of flagella. Aside from motility, the flagellum also moonlights as an adhesion and has been adapted by humans as a tool for peptide display. Flagellar sequence variation constitutes a marker with widespread potential uses for studies of population genetics and phylogeny of bacterial species. RESULTS: We sequenced the complete flagellin gene (flaA) in 18 different species and subspecies of Aeromonas. Sequences ranged in size from 870 (A. allosaccharophila) to 921 nucleotides (A. popoffii). The multiple alignment displayed 924 sites, 66 of which presented alignment gaps. The phylogenetic tree revealed the existence of two groups of species exhibiting different FlaA flagellins (FlaA1 and FlaA2). Maximum likelihood models of codon substitution were used to analyze flaA sequences. Likelihood ratio tests suggested a low variation in selective pressure among lineages, with an omega ratio of less than 1 indicating the presence of purifying selection in almost all cases. Only one site under potential diversifying selection was identified (isoleucine in position 179). However, 17 amino acid positions were inferred as sites that are likely to be under positive selection using the branch-site model. Ancestral reconstruction revealed that these 17 amino acids were among the amino acid changes detected in the ancestral sequence. CONCLUSION: The models applied to our set of sequences allowed us to determine the possible evolutionary pathway followed by the flaA gene in Aeromonas, suggesting that this gene have probably been evolving independently in the two groups of Aeromonas species since the divergence of a distant common ancestor after one or several episodes of positive selection. REVIEWERS: This article was reviewed by Alexey Kondrashov, John Logsdon and Olivier Tenaillon (nominated by Laurence D Hurst).
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It is part of: Biology Direct, 2009, vol. 4, num. 23
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ISSN: 1745-6150
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Biologia, Sanitat i Medi Ambient)

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