The lab of Stephen Bell has published a new article in Nature Microbiology, entitled "Chromosome organization affects genome evolution in Sulfolobus archaea."
Abstract: In all organisms, the DNA sequence and the structural organization of chromosomes affect gene expression. The extremely thermophilic crenarchaeon Sulfolobus has one circular chromosome with three origins of replication. We previously revealed that this chromosome has defined A and B compartments that have high and low gene expression, respectively. As well as higher levels of gene expression, the A compartment contains the origins of replication. To evaluate the impact of three-dimensional organization on genome evolution, we characterized the effect of replication origins and compartmentalization on primary sequence evolution in eleven Sulfolobus species. Using single-nucleotide polymorphism analyses, we found that distance from an origin of replication was associated with increased mutation rates in the B but not in the A compartment. The enhanced polymorphisms distal to replication origins suggest that replication termination may have a causal role in their generation. Further mutational analyses revealed that the sequences in the A compartment are less likely to be mutated, and that there is stronger purifying selection than in the B compartment. Finally, we applied the Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-seq) to show that the B compartment is less accessible than the A compartment. Taken together, our data suggest that compartmentalization of chromosomal DNA can influence chromosome evolution in Sulfolobus. We propose that the A compartment serves as a haven for stable maintenance of gene sequences, while sequences in the B compartment can be diversified.