Life Sci Alliance. Auth.: J. van Leeuwen

Meta-analysis of dispensable essential genes and their interactions with bypass suppressors.

Carles Pons 1Jolanda van Leeuwen 2

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Free PMC article


Genes have been historically classified as essential or non-essential based on their requirement for viability. However, genomic mutations can sometimes bypass the requirement for an essential gene, challenging the binary classification of gene essentiality. Such dispensable essential genes represent a valuable model for understanding the incomplete penetrance of loss-of-function mutations often observed in natural populations. Here, we compiled data from multiple studies on essential gene dispensability in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to comprehensively characterize these genes. In analyses spanning different evolutionary timescales, dispensable essential genes exhibited distinct phylogenetic properties compared with other essential and non-essential genes. Integration of interactions with suppressor genes that can bypass the gene essentiality revealed the high functional modularity of the bypass suppression network. Furthermore, dispensable essential and bypass suppressor gene pairs reflected simultaneous changes in the mutational landscape of S. cerevisiae strains. Importantly, species in which dispensable essential genes were non-essential tended to carry bypass suppressor mutations in their genomes. Overall, our study offers a comprehensive view of dispensable essential genes and illustrates how their interactions with bypass suppressors reflect evolutionary outcomes.