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Mensch J.,University of Buenos Aires | Serra F.,Research Center Principe Felipe | Serra F.,Genome Biology Group | Lavagnino N.J.,University of Buenos Aires | And 2 more authors.
Genome Biology and Evolution | Year: 2013

Developmental conservation among related species is a common generalization known as von Baer's third law and implies that early stages of development are the most refractory to change. The "hourglass model" is an alternative view that proposes that middle stages are the most constrained during development. To investigate this issue, we undertook a genomic approach and provide insights into how natural selection operates on genes expressed during the first 24 h of Drosophila ontogeny in the six species of the melanogaster group for which whole genome sequences are available. Having studied the rate of evolution of more than 2,000 developmental genes, our results showed differential selective pressures at different moments of embryogenesis. In many Drosophila species, early zygotic genes evolved slower than maternal genes indicating that mid-embryogenesis is the stage most refractory to evolutionary change. Interestingly, positively selected genes were found in all embryonic stages even during the period with the highest developmental constraint, emphasizing that positive selection and negative selection are not mutually exclusive as it is often mistakenly considered. Among the fastest evolving genes, we identified a network of nucleoporins (Nups) as part of the maternal transcriptome. Specifically, the acceleration of Nups was driven by positive selection only in the more recently diverged species. Because many Nups are involved in hybrid incompatibilities between species of the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup, our results link rapid evolution of early developmental genes with reproductive isolation. In summary, our study revealed that even within functional groups of genes evolving under strong negative selection many positively selected genes could be recognized. Understanding these exceptions to the broad evolutionary conservation of early expressed developmental genes can shed light into relevant processes driving the evolution of species divergence. © The Author(s) 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Dekker J.,University of Massachusetts Medical School | Marti-Renom M.A.,Genome Biology Group | Marti-Renom M.A.,Center for Genomic Regulation | Mirny L.A.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nature Reviews Genetics | Year: 2013

How DNA is organized in three dimensions inside the cell nucleus and how this affects the ways in which cells access, read and interpret genetic information are among the longest standing questions in cell biology. Using newly developed molecular, genomic and computational approaches based on the chromosome conformation capture technology (such as 3C, 4C, 5C and Hi-C), the spatial organization of genomes is being explored at unprecedented resolution. Interpreting the increasingly large chromatin interaction data sets is now posing novel challenges. Here we describe several types of statistical and computational approaches that have recently been developed to analyse chromatin interaction data. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited.

Bano-Polo M.,University of Valencia | Baeza-Delgado C.,University of Valencia | Orzaez M.,Research Center Principe Felipe | Marti-Renom M.A.,Genome Biology Group | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

The vast majority of membrane proteins are anchored to biological membranes through hydrophobic α-helices. Sequence analysis of high-resolution membrane protein structures show that ionizable amino acid residues are present in transmembrane (TM) helices, often with a functional and/or structural role. Here, using as scaffold the hydrophobic TM domain of the model membrane protein glycophorin A (GpA), we address the consequences of replacing specific residues by ionizable amino acids on TM helix insertion and packing, both in detergent micelles and in biological membranes. Our findings demonstrate that ionizable residues are stably inserted in hydrophobic environments, and tolerated in the dimerization process when oriented toward the lipid face, emphasizing the complexity of protein-lipid interactions in biological membranes. © 2012 Bañó-Polo et al.

Dufour D.,Genome Biology Group | Marti-Renom M.A.,Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Computational Molecular Science | Year: 2015

RNA is not regarded anymore as a simple transfer molecule between DNA and proteins. Indeed, over the past decades a plethora of new functional roles have been assigned to RNA molecules. Such functions are carried out either by RNA molecules alone or through interactions with DNA, other RNA molecules, or proteins. In all cases, the structure that the RNA molecule adopts will impact its function, as it happens with proteins. Therefore, to fully characterize the function of an RNA molecule, its structure needs to be either determined by experiments or predicted by computation. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the atomic mechanism by which RNA molecules adopt their biological active structures is still limited. Such hurdle is now being addressed by the development of new computational methods for RNA structure prediction, which complement experimental methods such as X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance, small-angle X-ray scattering, and cryo-electron microscopy. This software focus is not dedicated to a single computational method but aims at outlining the most adopted methods for computational RNA structure prediction. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Serra F.,Research Center Principe Felipe | Serra F.,Genome Biology Group | Becher V.,University of Buenos Aires | Dopazo H.,Institute Genomica Humana Banco Nacional Of Datos Geneticos | Dopazo H.,University of Buenos Aires
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

It is universally true in ecological communities, terrestrial or aquatic, temperate or tropical, that some species are very abundant, others are moderately common, and the majority are rare. Likewise, eukaryotic genomes also contain classes or "species" of genetic elements that vary greatly in abundance: DNA transposons, retrotransposons, satellite sequences, simple repeats and their less abundant functional sequences such as RNA or genes. Are the patterns of relative species abundance and diversity similar among ecological communities and genomes? Previous dynamical models of genomic diversity have focused on the selective forces shaping the abundance and diversity of transposable elements (TEs). However, ideally, models of genome dynamics should consider not only TEs, but also the diversity of all genetic classes or "species" populating eukaryotic genomes. Here, in an analysis of the diversity and abundance of genetic elements in >500 eukaryotic chromosomes, we show that the patterns are consistent with a neutral hypothesis of genome assembly in virtually all chromosomes tested. The distributions of relative abundance of genetic elements are quite precisely predicted by the dynamics of an ecological model for which the principle of functional equivalence is the main assumption. We hypothesize that at large temporal scales an overarching neutral or nearly neutral process governs the evolution of abundance and diversity of genetic elements in eukaryotic genomes. © 2013 Serra et al.

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