Evolution of characterized phosphorylation sites in budding yeast

Mol Biol Evol. 2010 Sep;27(9):2027-37. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msq090. Epub 2010 Apr 5.


Phosphorylation is one of the most studied and important regulatory mechanisms that modulate protein function in eukaryotic cells. Recently, several studies have investigated the evolution of phosphorylation sites identified by high-throughput methods. These studies have revealed varying degrees of evidence for constraint and plasticity, and therefore, there is currently no consensus as to the evolutionary properties of this important regulatory mechanism. Here, we present a study of high-confidence annotated sites from budding yeast and show that these sites are significantly constrained compared with their flanking region in closely related species. We show that this property does not change in structured or unstructured regions. We investigate the birth, death and compensation rates of the phosphorylation sites and test if sites are more likely to be gained or lost in proteins with greater numbers of sites. Finally, we also show that this evolutionary conservation can yield significant improvement for kinase target predictions when the kinase recognition motif is known, and can be used to infer the recognition motif when a set of targets is known. Our analysis indicates that phosphorylation sites are under selective constraint, consistent with their functional importance. We also find that a small fraction of phosphorylation sites turnover during evolution, which may be an important process underlying the evolution of regulatory networks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phylogeny
  • Saccharomycetales / chemistry
  • Saccharomycetales / genetics
  • Saccharomycetales / metabolism*