The Protein Chaperone HSP90 Can Facilitate the Divergence of Gene Duplicates
Jennifer Lachowiec, Tzitziki Lemus, James H. Thomas, Patrick J. M. Murphy, Jennifer L. Nemhauser, Christine Queitsch


The heat-shock protein 90 (HSP90) acts as a chaperone by ensuring proper maturation and folding of its client proteins. The HSP90 capacitor hypothesis holds that interactions with HSP90 allow proteins to accumulate mutations while maintaining function. Following this logic, HSP90 clients would be predicted to show relaxed selection compared with nonclients. In this study, we identify a new HSP90 client in the plant steroid hormone pathway: the transcription factor BES1. Its closest paralog, BZR1, is not an HSP90 client. This difference in HSP90 client status in two highly similar proteins enabled a direct test of the capacitor hypothesis. We find that BES1 shows relaxed selection compared to BZR1, hallmarks of neo- and subfunctionalization, and dynamic HSP90 client status across independent evolutionary paths. These results suggested that HSP90’s influence on gene evolution may be detectable if we compare gene duplicates because duplicates share most other properties influencing evolutionary rate that might otherwise conceal the chaperone’s effect. We test this hypothesis using systematically identified HSP90 clients in yeast and observe a significant trend of HSP90 clients evolving faster than their nonclient paralogs. This trend was not detected when yeast clients and nonclients were compared without considering paralog status. Our data provide evidence that HSP90 influences selection on genes encoding its clients and facilitates divergence between gene duplicates.

  • Received November 27, 2012.
  • Accepted January 31, 2013.
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