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Publication Detail
Repeat sequences limit the effectiveness of lateral gene transfer and favored the evolution of meiotic sex in early eukaryotes
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Colnaghi M, Lane N, Pomiankowski A
  • Publisher:
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Article number:
  • Medium:
  • Status:
  • Country:
    United States
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Muller’s ratchet, eukaryogenesis, lateral gene transfer, mutation accumulation, sexual reproduction, Eukaryota, Evolution, Molecular, Gene Transfer, Horizontal, Mutation, Mutation Accumulation, Phylogeny, Prokaryotic Cells
  • Notes:
    © 2022 the Author(s). Published by PNAS. This article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND).
The transition from prokaryotic lateral gene transfer to eukaryotic meiotic sex is poorly understood. Phylogenetic evidence suggests that it was tightly linked to eukaryogenesis, which involved an unprecedented rise in both genome size and the density of genetic repeats. Expansion of genome size raised the severity of Muller's ratchet, while limiting the effectiveness of lateral gene transfer (LGT) at purging deleterious mutations. In principle, an increase in recombination length combined with higher rates of LGT could solve this problem. Here, we show using a computational model that this solution fails in the presence of genetic repeats prevalent in early eukaryotes. The model demonstrates that dispersed repeat sequences allow ectopic recombination, which leads to the loss of genetic information and curtails the capacity of LGT to prevent mutation accumulation. Increasing recombination length in the presence of repeat sequences exacerbates the problem. Mutational decay can only be resisted with homology along extended sequences of DNA. We conclude that the transition to homologous pairing along linear chromosomes was a key innovation in meiotic sex, which was instrumental in the expansion of eukaryotic genomes and morphological complexity.
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