Replication-associated gene dosage effects shape the genomes of fast-growing bacteria but only for transcription and translation genes

Mol Microbiol. 2006 Mar;59(5):1506-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2006.05046.x.


The bidirectional replication of bacterial genomes leads to transient gene dosage effects. Here, we show that such effects shape the chromosome organisation of fast-growing bacteria and that they correlate strongly with maximal growth rate. Surprisingly the predicted maximal number of replication rounds shows little if any phylogenetic inertia, suggesting that it is a very labile trait. Yet, a combination of theoretical and statistical analyses predicts that dozens of replication forks may be simultaneously present in the cells of certain species. This suggests a strikingly efficient management of the replication apparatus, of replication fork arrests and of chromosome segregation in such cells. Gene dosage effects strongly constrain the position of genes involved in translation and transcription, but not other highly expressed genes. The relative proximity of the former genes to the origin of replication follows the regulatory dependencies observed under exponential growth, as the bias is stronger for RNA polymerase, then rDNA, then ribosomal proteins and tDNA. Within tDNAs we find that only the positions of the previously proposed 'ubiquitous' tRNA, which translate the most frequent codons in highly expressed genes, show strong signs of selection for gene dosage effects. Finally, we provide evidence for selection acting upon genome organisation to take advantage of gene dosage effects by identifying a positive correlation between genome stability and the number of simultaneous replication rounds. We also show that gene dosage effects can explain the over-representation of highly expressed genes in the largest replichore of genomes containing more than one chromosome. Together, these results demonstrate that replication-associated gene dosage is an important determinant of chromosome organisation and dynamics, especially among fast-growing bacteria.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial
  • DNA Replication / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Gene Dosage*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Gene Order
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Genomic Instability
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal