Fitness Trade-Offs Determine the Role of the Molecular Chaperonin GroEL in Buffering Mutations

Molecular Biology and Evolution
Beatriz Sabater-MuñozMario A Fares


Molecular chaperones fold many proteins and their mutated versions in a cell and can sometimes buffer the phenotypic effect of mutations that affect protein folding. Unanswered questions about this buffering include the nature of its mechanism, its influence on the genetic variation of a population, the fitness trade-offs constraining this mechanism, and its role in expediting evolution. Answering these questions is fundamental to understand the contribution of buffering to increase genetic variation and ecological diversification. Here, we performed experimental evolution, genome resequencing, and computational analyses to determine the trade-offs and evolutionary trajectories of Escherichia coli expressing high levels of the essential chaperonin GroEL. GroEL is abundantly present in bacteria, particularly in bacteria with large loads of deleterious mutations, suggesting its role in mutational buffering. We show that groEL overexpression is costly to large populations evolving in the laboratory, leading to groE expression decline within 66 generations. In contrast, populations evolving under the strong genetic drift characteristic of endosymbiotic bacteria avoid extinction or can be rescued in the presence of abundant GroEL. G...Continue Reading


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Methods Mentioned

Illumina sequencing
454 sequencing
dot blot

Related Concepts

Alkalescens-Dispar Group
Genes, Bacterial
Subcellular Fractions
Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
GroEL Protein
In Vitro Molecular Evolution
Evolution, Neutral
Genetic Fitness

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