QueTAL?: code-cracking TAL effector evolution

Alvaro Pérez
UMR IPME, IRD-CIRAD-Université Montpellier Montpellier, France
Vendredi 11 Décembre 2015, 14h00 à l' IBC (LIRMM Bat.5), Salle 2/124 (voir plan)

This is a the story of a secret code found in proteins of plant-pathogenic bacteria, and the tools we can use to study the code's evolution: Many plant-pathogenic xanthomonads rely on Transcription Activator-Like (TAL) effectors to colonize their host. This particular family of type III effectors functions as specific plant transcription factors via a programmable DNA-binding domain. Upon binding to the promoters of plant disease susceptibility genes in a sequence-specific manner, the expression of these host genes is induced. DNA-binding specificity is governed by a central domain made of nearly identical repeats, each determining the recognition of one base pair via two amino acid residues (a.k.a. Repeat Variable Di-residue, or RVD). Knowing how TAL effectors differ from each other within and between strains would be useful to infer functional and evolutionary relationships, but their repetitive nature precludes reliable use of traditional alignment methods. The suite QueTAL was therefore developed to offer tailored tools for comparison of TAL effector genes. In this, suite. The program DisTAL considers each repeat as a unit, transforms a TAL effector sequence into a sequence of coded repeats and makes pair-wise alignments between these coded sequences to construct trees. The program FuncTAL is aimed at finding TAL effectors with similar DNA-binding capabilities. It calculates correlations between position weight matrices of potential target DNA sequence predicted from the RVD sequence, and builds trees based on these correlations. The programs accurately represented phylogenetic and functional relationships between TAL effectors using either simulated or literature-curated data. When using the programs on a large set of TAL effector sequences, the DisTAL tree largely reflected the expected species phylogeny. In contrast, FuncTAL showed that TAL effectors with similar binding capabilities can be found between phylogenetically distant taxa. This suite will help users to rapidly analyse any TAL effector genes of interest and compare them to other available TAL genes and should improve our understanding of TAL effectors evolution

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