Journal Article

Population Genomics of Intron Splicing in 38 <i>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</i> Genome Sequences

Daniel A. Skelly, James Ronald, Caitlin F. Connelly and Joshua M. Akey

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 1, issue , pages 466-478
Published in print January 2009 |
Published online November 2009 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
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Introns are a ubiquitous feature of eukaryotic genomes, and the dynamics of intron evolution between species has been extensively studied. However, comparatively few analyses have focused on the evolutionary forces shaping patterns of intron variation within species. To better understand the population genetic characteristics of introns, we performed an extensive population genetics analysis on key intron splice sequences obtained from 38 strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. As expected, we found that purifying selection is the dominant force governing intron splice sequence evolution in yeast, formally confirming that intron-containing alleles are a mutational liability. In addition, through extensive coalescent simulations, we obtain quantitative estimates of the strength of purifying selection (2Nes ≈ 19) and use diffusion approximations to provide insights into the evolutionary dynamics and sojourn times of newly arising splice sequence mutations in natural yeast populations. In contrast to previous functional studies, evolutionary analyses comparing the prevalence of introns in essential and nonessential genes suggest that introns in nonribosomal protein genes are functionally important and tend to be actively maintained in natural populations of S. cerevisiae. Finally, we demonstrate that heritable variation in splicing efficiency is common in intron-containing genes with splice sequence polymorphisms. More generally, our study highlights the advantages of population genomics analyses for exploring the forces that have generated extant patterns of genome variation and for illuminating basic biological processes.

Keywords: yeast; intron evolution; purifying selection; ancestral selection graph

Journal Article.  8836 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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