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Independent Losses and Duplications of Autophagy-Related Genes in Fungal Tree of Life

Qinhu Wang, Huiquan Liu, Huaijian Xu, Ruonan Hei, Shijie Zhang, Cong Jiang, Jin-Rong Xu.

Environmental Microbiology

DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.14451

 

 

Abstract: Autophagy is important for growth, development, and pathogenesis in fungi. Although autophagic process is generally considered to be conserved, the conservation and evolution of ATG genes at kingdom-wide remains to be conducted. Here we systematically identified 41 known ATG genes in 331 species and analyzed their distribution across the fungal kingdom. In general, only 20 ATG genes are highly conserved, including most but not all the yeast coreautophagy-machinery genes. Four functional protein groups involved in autophagosome formation had conserved and non-conserved components, suggesting plasticity in autophagosome formation in fungi. All or majority of the key ATG genes were lost in several fungal groups with unique lifestyles and niches, such as Microsporidia, Pneumocystis, and Malassezia. Moreover, majority of ATG genes had A-to-I RNA editing during sexual reproduction in two ascomycetes and deletion of FgATG11, the ATG gene with the most editing sites in Fusarium affected ascospore releasing. Duplication and divergence also was observed to several core ATG genes, such as highly divergent ATG8 paralogs in dermatophytes and multiple ATG15 duplications in mushrooms. Taken together, independent losses and duplications of ATG genes have occurred throughout the fungal kingdom and variations in autophagy exist among different lineages and possibly different developmental stages.