Diversity of translation initiation mechanisms across bacterial species is driven by environmental conditions and growth demands

Adam J. Hockenberry, Aaron J. Stern, Luıs A.N. Amaral*, Michael C. Jewett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Shine–Dalgarno (SD) sequence motif is frequently found upstream of protein coding genes and is thought to be the dominant mechanism of translation initiation used by bacteria. Experimental studies have shown that the SD sequence facilitates start codon recognition and enhances translation initiation by directly interacting with the highly conserved anti-SD sequence on the 30S ribosomal subunit. However, the proportion of SD-led genes within a genome varies across species and the factors governing this variation in translation initiation mechanisms remain largely unknown. Here, we conduct a phylogenetically informed analysis and find that species capable of rapid growth contain a higher proportion of SD-led genes throughout their genomes. We show that SD sequence utilization covaries with a suite of genomic features that are important for efficient translation initiation and elongation. In addition to these endogenous genomic factors, we further show that exogenous environmental factors may influence the evolution of translation initiation mechanisms by finding that thermophilic species contain significantly more SD-led genes than mesophiles. Our results demonstrate that variation in translation initiation mechanisms across bacterial species is predictable and is a consequence of differential life-history strategies related to maximum growth rate and environmental-specific constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-592
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Keywords

  • Bacterial growth
  • Genome evolution.
  • Shine–Dalgarno sequence
  • Translation initiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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