Genetic pleiotropy, the ability of a mutation in a single gene to give rise to multiple phenotypic outcomes, constitutes an important but incompletely understood biological phenomenon. We used a high-resolution and high-precision phenotypic profiling approach to quantify the fitness contribution of genes on the five smallest yeast chromosomes during different forms of environmental stress, selected to probe a wide diversity of physiological features. We found that the extent of pleiotropy is much higher than previously claimed; 17% of the yeast genes were pleiotropic whereof one-fifth were hyper-pleiotropic. Pleiotropic genes preferentially participate in functions related to determination of protein fate, cell growth and morphogenesis, signal transduction and transcription. Contrary to what has earlier been proposed we did not find experimental evidence for slower evolutionary rate of pleiotropic genes/proteins. We also refute the existence of phenotypic islands along chromosomes but report on a remarkable loss both of pleiotropy and of phenotypic penetrance towards chromosomal ends. Thus, the here reported features of pleiotropy both have implications on our understanding of evolutionary processes as well as the mechanisms underlying disease.
Molecular Genetics and Genomics – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 14, 2006
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