Evolutionary interplay between symbiotic relationships and patterns of signal peptide gain and loss

Peter Hönigschmid, Nadya Bykova, Reńe Schneider, Dmitry Ivankov, Dmitrij Frishman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Can orthologous proteins differ in terms of their ability to be secreted? To answer this question, we investigated the distribution of signal peptides within the orthologous groups of Enterobacterales. Parsimony analysis and sequence comparisons revealed a large number of signal peptide gain and loss events, in which signal peptides emerge or disappear in the course of evolution. Signal peptide losses prevail over gains, an effect which is especially pronounced in the transition from the free-living or commensal to the endosymbiotic lifestyle. The disproportionate decline in the number of signal peptide-containing proteins in endosymbionts cannot be explained by the overall reduction of their genomes. Signal peptides can be gained and lost either by acquisition/elimination of the corresponding N-terminal regions or by gradual accumulation of mutations. The evolutionary dynamics of signal peptides in bacterial proteins represents a powerful mechanism of functional diversification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)928-938
Number of pages11
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Comparative genomics
  • Molecular evolution
  • Sequence analysis
  • Signal peptides


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