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Genes encoding the photosystem II proteins are under purifying selection: an insight into the early evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis

Abstract

The molecular evolution concerns coding sequences (CDSs) of genes and may affect the structure and function of proteins. Non-uniform use of synonymous codons during translation, known as codon usage bias (CUB), depends on the balance between mutations bias and natural selection. We estimated different CUB indices, i.e. the effective number of codons (ENC), G + C content in the 3rd codon positions (GC3), and codon adaptation index for CDSs of intrinsic proteins of photosystem II (PSII), such as psbA (D1), psbD (D2), psbB (CP47), psbC (CP43), and CDSs of the extrinsic protein psbO (PsbO). These genes occur in all organisms that perform oxygenic photosynthesis (OP) on Earth: cyanobacteria, algae and plants. Comparatively, a similar analysis of codon bias for CDSs of L and M subunits that constitute the core proteins of the type II reaction centre (RCII) in anoxygenic bacteria was performed. Analysis of CUB indices and determination of the number of synonymous (dS) and nonsynonymous substitutions (dN) in all analysed CDSs indicated that the crucial PSII and RCII proteins were under strong purifying (negative) selection in course of evolution. Purifying selection was also estimated for CDSs of atpA, the α subunit of ATP synthase, an enzyme that was most likely already present in the last universal common ancestor (LUCA). The data obtained point to an ancient origin of OP, even in the earliest stages of the evolution of life on Earth.

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Acknowledgements

We also thank the anonymous reviewers for several suggestions that helped to improve the quality of the article.

Funding

This research was supported by The Franciszek Górski Institute of Plant Physiology Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków, Poland.

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Correspondence to Ireneusz Ślesak.

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Ślesak, I., Mazur, Z. & Ślesak, H. Genes encoding the photosystem II proteins are under purifying selection: an insight into the early evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis. Photosynth Res (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11120-022-00917-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11120-022-00917-8

Keywords

  • Arabidopsis
  • Chloroflexi
  • Evolution
  • Natural selection
  • Proteobacteria