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Computational Characterization of the mtORF of Pocilloporid Corals: Insights into Protein Structure and Function in Stylophora Lineages from Contrasting Environments

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      Abstract

      More than a decade ago, a new mitochondrial Open Reading Frame (mtORF) was discovered in corals of the family Pocilloporidae and has been used since then as an effective barcode for these corals. Recently, mtORF sequencing revealed the existence of two differentiated Stylophora lineages occurring in sympatry along the environmental gradient of the Red Sea (18.5 °C to 33.9 °C). In the endemic Red Sea lineage RS_LinB, the mtORF and the heat shock protein gene hsp70 uncovered similar phylogeographic patterns strongly correlated with environmental variations. This suggests that the mtORF too might be involved in thermal adaptation. Here, we used computational analyses to explore the features and putative function of this mtORF. In particular, we tested the likelihood that this gene encodes a functional protein and whether it may play a role in adaptation. Analyses of full mitogenomes showed that the mtORF originated in the common ancestor of Madracis and other pocilloporids, and that it encodes a transmembrane protein differing in length and domain architecture among genera. Homology-based annotation and the relative conservation of metal-binding sites revealed traces of an ancient hydrolase catalytic activity. Furthermore, signals of pervasive purifying selection, lack of stop codons in 1830 sequences analyzed, and a codon-usage bias similar to that of other mitochondrial genes indicate that the protein is functional, i.e., not a pseudogene. Other features, such as intrinsically disordered regions, tandem repeats, and signals of positive selection particularly in Stylophora RS_LinB populations, are consistent with a role of the mtORF in adaptive responses to environmental changes.

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      The BLAST programs are widely used tools for searching protein and DNA databases for sequence similarities. For protein comparisons, a variety of definitional, algorithmic and statistical refinements described here permits the execution time of the BLAST programs to be decreased substantially while enhancing their sensitivity to weak similarities. A new criterion for triggering the extension of word hits, combined with a new heuristic for generating gapped alignments, yields a gapped BLAST program that runs at approximately three times the speed of the original. In addition, a method is introduced for automatically combining statistically significant alignments produced by BLAST into a position-specific score matrix, and searching the database using this matrix. The resulting Position-Specific Iterated BLAST (PSI-BLAST) program runs at approximately the same speed per iteration as gapped BLAST, but in many cases is much more sensitive to weak but biologically relevant sequence similarities. PSI-BLAST is used to uncover several new and interesting members of the BRCT superfamily.
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        MEGA7: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis Version 7.0 for Bigger Datasets.

        We present the latest version of the Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (Mega) software, which contains many sophisticated methods and tools for phylogenomics and phylomedicine. In this major upgrade, Mega has been optimized for use on 64-bit computing systems for analyzing larger datasets. Researchers can now explore and analyze tens of thousands of sequences in Mega The new version also provides an advanced wizard for building timetrees and includes a new functionality to automatically predict gene duplication events in gene family trees. The 64-bit Mega is made available in two interfaces: graphical and command line. The graphical user interface (GUI) is a native Microsoft Windows application that can also be used on Mac OS X. The command line Mega is available as native applications for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. They are intended for use in high-throughput and scripted analysis. Both versions are available from www.megasoftware.net free of charge.
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          New algorithms and methods to estimate maximum-likelihood phylogenies: assessing the performance of PhyML 3.0.

          PhyML is a phylogeny software based on the maximum-likelihood principle. Early PhyML versions used a fast algorithm performing nearest neighbor interchanges to improve a reasonable starting tree topology. Since the original publication (Guindon S., Gascuel O. 2003. A simple, fast and accurate algorithm to estimate large phylogenies by maximum likelihood. Syst. Biol. 52:696-704), PhyML has been widely used (>2500 citations in ISI Web of Science) because of its simplicity and a fair compromise between accuracy and speed. In the meantime, research around PhyML has continued, and this article describes the new algorithms and methods implemented in the program. First, we introduce a new algorithm to search the tree space with user-defined intensity using subtree pruning and regrafting topological moves. The parsimony criterion is used here to filter out the least promising topology modifications with respect to the likelihood function. The analysis of a large collection of real nucleotide and amino acid data sets of various sizes demonstrates the good performance of this method. Second, we describe a new test to assess the support of the data for internal branches of a phylogeny. This approach extends the recently proposed approximate likelihood-ratio test and relies on a nonparametric, Shimodaira-Hasegawa-like procedure. A detailed analysis of real alignments sheds light on the links between this new approach and the more classical nonparametric bootstrap method. Overall, our tests show that the last version (3.0) of PhyML is fast, accurate, stable, and ready to use. A Web server and binary files are available from http://www.atgc-montpellier.fr/phyml/.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, Université libre de Bruxelles, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
            [2 ]Interuniversity Institute of Bioinformatics in Brussels—(IB)2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
            [3 ]Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics, Universidad Mayor, Santiago, Chile; evandro.ferrada@ 123456mayor.cl
            [4 ]Coral Reef Ecology, Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), St.George’s GE 01, Bermuda; yvonne.sawall@ 123456bios.edu
            Author notes
            [†]

            These authors share first authorship.

            Journal
            Genes (Basel)
            Genes (Basel)
            genes
            Genes
            MDPI
            2073-4425
            27 April 2019
            May 2019
            : 10
            : 5
            31035578 6562464 10.3390/genes10050324 genes-10-00324
            © 2019 by the authors.

            Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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