Ongoing resolution of duplicate gene functions shapes the diversification of a metabolic network

Elife. 2016 Sep 30;5:e19027. doi: 10.7554/eLife.19027.


The evolutionary mechanisms leading to duplicate gene retention are well understood, but the long-term impacts of paralog differentiation on the regulation of metabolism remain underappreciated. Here we experimentally dissect the functions of two pairs of ancient paralogs of the GALactose sugar utilization network in two yeast species. We show that the Saccharomyces uvarum network is more active, even as over-induction is prevented by a second co-repressor that the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae lacks. Surprisingly, removal of this repression system leads to a strong growth arrest, likely due to overly rapid galactose catabolism and metabolic overload. Alternative sugars, such as fructose, circumvent metabolic control systems and exacerbate this phenotype. We further show that S. cerevisiae experiences homologous metabolic constraints that are subtler due to how the paralogs have diversified. These results show how the functional differentiation of paralogs continues to shape regulatory network architectures and metabolic strategies long after initial preservation.

Keywords: S. cerevisiae; Saccharomyces bayanus; Saccharomyces uvarum; evolutionary biology; galactose; gene duplication; gene network; genomics; sugar metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Fructose / metabolism
  • Galactose / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Genes, Duplicate*
  • Genes, Fungal*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces / growth & development
  • Saccharomyces / metabolism*


  • Fructose
  • Galactose