Publications

2019
Sriram Srikant, Rachelle Gaudet, and Andrew W Murray. 10/2019. “Selecting for altered substrate specificity reveals the evolutionary flexibility of ATP-binding cassette transporters.” bioRxiv. Publisher's VersionAbstract
ABC transporters are the largest family of ATP-hydrolyzing transporters, with members in every sequenced genome, which transport substrates across membranes. Structural studies and biochemistry highlight the contrast between the global structural similarity of homologous transporters and the enormous diversity of their substrates. How do ABC transporters evolve to carry such diverse molecules and what variations in their amino acid sequence alter their substrate selectivity? We mutagenized the transmembrane domains of a conserved fungal ABC transporter that exports a mating pheromone and selected for mutants that export a non-cognate pheromone. Mutations that alter export selectivity cover a region that is larger than expected for a localized substrate-binding site. Individual selected clones have multiple mutations which have broadly additive contributions to specific transport activity. Our results suggest that multiple positions influence substrate selectivity, leading to alternative evolutionary paths towards selectivity for particular substrates, and explaining the number and diversity of ABC transporters.
Marco Fumasoni and Andrew Murray. 2019. “The evolutionary plasticity of chromosome metabolism allows adaptation to DNA replication stress.” bioRxiv. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Chromosome metabolism is defined by the pathways that collectively maintain the genome, including chromosome replication, repair and segregation. Because aspects of these pathways are conserved, chromosome metabolism is considered resistant to evolutionary change. We used the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to investigate the evolutionary plasticity of chromosome metabolism. We experimentally evolved cells constitutively experiencing DNA replication stress caused by the absence of Ctf4, a protein that coordinates the activities at replication forks. Parallel populations adapted to replication stress, over 1000 generations, by acquiring multiple, successive mutations. Whole-genome sequencing and testing candidate mutations revealed adaptive changes in three aspects of chromosome metabolism: DNA replication, DNA damage checkpoint and sister chromatid cohesion. Although no gene was mutated in every population, the same pathways were sequentially altered, defining a functionally reproducible evolutionary trajectory. We propose that this evolutionary plasticity of chromosome metabolism has important implications for genome evolution in natural populations and cancer.

Miguel C. Coelho, Ricardo M. Pinto, and Andrew W. Murray. 2019. “Heterozygous mutations cause genetic instability in yeast model of cancer evolution.” Nature, 566, Pp. 275–278. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Genetic instability, a heritable increase in the rate of genetic mutation, accelerates evolutionary adaptation1 and is widespread in cancer2,3. In mammals, instability can arise from damage to both copies of genes involved in DNA metabolism and cell cycle regulation4 or from inactivation of one copy of a gene whose product is present in limiting amounts (haploinsufficiency5); however, it has proved difficult to determine the relative importance of these two mechanisms. In Escherichia coli6, the application of repeated, strong selection enriches for genetic instability. Here we have used this approach to evolve genetic instability in diploid cells of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and have isolated clones with increased rates of point mutation, mitotic recombination, and chromosome loss. We identified candidate, heterozygous, instability-causing mutations; engineering these mutations, as heterozygotes, into the ancestral diploid strain caused genetic instability. Mutations that inactivated one copy of haploinsufficient genes were more common than those that dominantly altered the function of the mutated gene copy. The mutated genes were enriched for genes functioning in transport, protein quality control, and DNA metabolism, and have revealed new targets for genetic instability7,8,9,10,11, including essential genes. Although only a minority (10 out of 57 genes with orthologues or close homologues) of the targets we identified have homologous human genes that have been implicated in cancer2, the remainder are candidates to contribute to human genetic instability. To test this hypothesis, we inactivated six examples in a near-haploid human cell line; five of these mutations increased instability. We conclude that single genetic events cause genetic instability in diploid yeast cells, and propose that similar, heterozygous mutations in mammalian homologues initiate genetic instability in cancer.
Patrick R. Stoddard, Eric M. Lynch, Daniel P. Farrell, Quincey A. Justman, Annie M. Dosey, Frank DiMaio, Tom A. Williams, Justin M. Kollman, Andrew W. Murray, and Ethan C. Garner. 2019. “Independent evolution of polymerization in the Actin ATPase clan regulates hexokinase activity.” bioRxiv. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The actin protein fold is found in cytoskeletal polymers, chaperones, and various metabolic enzymes. Many actin-fold proteins, like the carbohydrate kinases, do not polymerize. We find that Glk1, a Saccharomyces cerevisiae glucokinase, forms two-stranded filaments with unique ultrastructure, distinct from that of cytoskeletal polymers. In cells, Glk1 polymerizes upon sugar addition and depolymerizes upon sugar withdrawal. Glk1 polymerization inhibits its enzymatic activity, thus the Glk1 monomer-polymer equilibrium sets a maximum rate of glucose phosphorylation regardless of Glk1 concentration. A mutation eliminating Glk1 polymerization alleviates concentration-dependent enzyme inhibition, causing glucokinase activity to become unconstrained. Polymerization-based regulation of Glk1 activity serves an important function in vivo: yeast containing non-polymerizing Glk1 are less fit when growing on sugars and more likely to die when refed glucose. Glucokinase polymerization arose within the ascomycete fungi and is conserved across a group of divergent (150-200 mya) yeast. We show that Glk1 polymerization arose independently from other actin-related filaments and allows yeast to rapidly modulate glucokinase activity as nutrient availability changes.

Severine Atis, Bryan T. Weinstein, Andrew W. Murray, and David R. Nelson. 2019. “Microbial range expansions on liquid substrates.” Physical Review X, 9, 2. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Despite the importance of flow for transporting and organizing populations, few laboratory systems exist to systematically investigate the impact of advection on their spatial evolutionary dynamics. To address this problem, we study the morphology and genetic spatial structure of microbial colonies growing on the surface of a nutrient-laden fluid 104 to 105 times more viscous than water in Petri dishes; the extreme but finite viscosity inhibits undesired thermal convection and allows populations to effectively live at the air-liquid interface due to capillary forces. We discover that S. cerevisiae (baker's yeast) growing on a viscous liquid behave like “active matter": they metabolically generate fluid flows many times larger than their unperturbed colony expansion speed, and that flow, in turn, can dramatically impact their colony morphology and spatial population genetics. We show that yeast cells generate fluid flows by consuming surrounding nutrients and decreasing the local substrate density, leading to misaligned fluid pressure and density contours  which ultimately generates vorticity via a thresholdless baroclinic instability. Numerical simulations with experimentally measured parameters demonstrate that an intense vortex ring is produced below the colony's edge. As the viscosity of the substrate is lowered and the self-induced flow intensifies, we observe three distinct morphologies: at the highest viscosity, cell proliferation and movement produces compact circular colonies with, however, a stretched regime of exponential expansion; intermediate viscosities give rise to compact colonies with “fingers" that are usually monoclonal and then break into smaller cell clusters; and at the lowest viscosity, the expanding colony fractures into many genetically-diverse, mutually repelling, island-like fragments that can colonize an entire 94 mm-diameter Petri dish within 36 hours. We propose a simple phenomenological model that predicts the early colony dynamics. Our results provide rich opportunities to study the interplay between fluid flow and spatial population genetics for future investigations.

Andrew W. Murray, Diane K. O'Dowd, and Chris D. Impey. 2019. “Point of View: When it Comes to Teaching and Tenure it is Time to Walk the Walk.” eLife, 8. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Institutions should value teaching and service, and not just research, when considering faculty for promotion and tenure.
2018
Andrea Giometto, David R. Nelson, and Andrew W Murray. 2018. “Physical interactions reduce the power of natural selection in growing yeast colonies.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 115, 45, Pp. 11448-11453. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Microbial populations often assemble in dense populations in which proliferating individuals exert mechanical forces on the nearby cells. Here, we use yeast strains whose doubling times depend differently on temperature to show that physical interactions among cells affect the competition between different genotypes in growing yeast colonies. Our experiments demonstrate that these physical interactions have two related effects: they cause the prolonged survival of slower-growing strains at the actively-growing frontier of the colony and cause faster-growing strains to increase their frequency more slowly than expected in the absence of physical interactions. These effects also promote the survival of slower-growing strains and the maintenance of genetic diversity in colonies grown in time-varying environments. A continuum model inspired by overdamped hydrodynamics reproduces the experiments and predicts that the strength of natural selection depends on the width of the actively growing layer at the colony frontier. We verify these predictions experimentally. The reduced power of natural selection observed here may favor the maintenance of drug-resistant cells in microbial populations and could explain the apparent neutrality of interclone competition within tumors.
2017
Felix Barber, Po-Yi Ho, Andrew W Murray, and Ariel Amir. 2017. “Details Matter: Noise and Model Structure Set the Relationship between Cell Size and Cell Cycle Timing.” Front Cell Dev Biol, 5, Pp. 92. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Organisms across all domains of life regulate the size of their cells. However, the means by which this is done is poorly understood. We study two abstracted "molecular" models for size regulation: inhibitor dilution and initiator accumulation. We apply the models to two settings: bacteria like, that grow fully before they set a division plane and divide into two equally sized cells, and cells that form a bud early in the cell division cycle, confine new growth to that bud, and divide at the connection between that bud and the mother cell, like the budding yeast. In budding cells, delaying cell division until buds reach the same size as their mother leads to very weak size control, with average cell size and standard deviation of cell size increasing over time and saturating up to 100-fold higher than those values for cells that divide when the bud is still substantially smaller than its mother. In budding yeast, both inhibitor dilution or initiator accumulation models are consistent with the observation that the daughters of diploid cells add a constant volume before they divide. This "adder" behavior has also been observed in bacteria. We find that in bacteria an inhibitor dilution model produces adder correlations that are not robust to noise in the timing of DNA replication initiation or in the timing from initiation of DNA replication to cell division (the+period). In contrast, in bacteria an initiator accumulation model yields robust adder correlations in the regime where noise in the timing of DNA replication initiation is much greater than noise in the+period, as reported previously (Ho and Amir, 2015). In bacteria, division into two equally sized cells does not broaden the size distribution.
Bryan T Weinstein, Maxim O Lavrentovich, Wolfram Möbius, Andrew W Murray, and David R. Nelson. 2017. “Genetic drift and selection in many-allele range expansions.” PLoS Comput Biol, 13, 12, Pp. e1005866. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We experimentally and numerically investigate the evolutionary dynamics of four competing strains of E. coli with differing expansion velocities in radially expanding colonies. We compare experimental measurements of the average fraction, correlation functions between strains, and the relative rates of genetic domain wall annihilations and coalescences to simulations modeling the population as a one-dimensional ring of annihilating and coalescing random walkers with deterministic biases due to selection. The simulations reveal that the evolutionary dynamics can be collapsed onto master curves governed by three essential parameters: (1) an expansion length beyond which selection dominates over genetic drift; (2) a characteristic angular correlation describing the size of genetic domains; and (3) a dimensionless constant quantifying the interplay between a colony's curvature at the frontier and its selection length scale. We measure these parameters with a new technique that precisely measures small selective differences between spatially competing strains and show that our simulations accurately predict the dynamics without additional fitting. Our results suggest that the random walk model can act as a useful predictive tool for describing the evolutionary dynamics of range expansions composed of an arbitrary number of genotypes with different fitnesses.
2016
Jolanda van Leeuwen, Carles Pons, Joseph C Mellor, Takafumi N Yamaguchi, Helena Friesen, John Koschwanez, Mojca Mattiazzi Ušaj, Maria Pechlaner, Mehmet Takar, Matej Ušaj, Benjamin Vander Sluis, Kerry Andrusiak, Pritpal Bansal, Anastasia Baryshnikova, Claire E Boone, Jessica Cao, Atina Cote, Marinella Gebbia, Gene Horecka, Ira Horecka, Elena Kuzmin, Nicole Legro, Wendy Liang, Natascha van Lieshout, Margaret McNee, Bryan-Joseph San Luis, Fatemeh Shaeri, Ermira Shuteriqi, Song Sun, Lu Yang, Ji-Young Youn, Michael Yuen, Michael Costanzo, Anne-Claude Gingras, Patrick Aloy, Chris Oostenbrink, Andrew Murray, Todd R Graham, Chad L Myers, Brenda J Andrews, Frederick P Roth, and Charles Boone. 2016. “Exploring genetic suppression interactions on a global scale.” Science, 354, 6312. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Genetic suppression occurs when the phenotypic defects caused by a mutation in a particular gene are rescued by a mutation in a second gene. To explore the principles of genetic suppression, we examined both literature-curated and unbiased experimental data, involving systematic genetic mapping and whole-genome sequencing, to generate a large-scale suppression network among yeast genes. Most suppression pairs identified novel relationships among functionally related genes, providing new insights into the functional wiring diagram of the cell. In addition to suppressor mutations, we identified frequent secondary mutations,in a subset of genes, that likely cause a delay in the onset of stationary phase, which appears to promote their enrichment within a propagating population. These findings allow us to formulate and quantify general mechanisms of genetic suppression.
Mary E Wahl and Andrew W Murray. 2016. “Multicellularity makes somatic differentiation evolutionarily stable.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 113, 30, Pp. 8362-7. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Many multicellular organisms produce two cell lineages: germ cells, whose descendants produce the next generation, and somatic cells, which support, protect, and disperse the germ cells. This germ-soma demarcation has evolved independently in dozens of multicellular taxa but is absent in unicellular species. A common explanation holds that in these organisms, inefficient intercellular nutrient exchange compels the fitness cost of producing nonreproductive somatic cells to outweigh any potential benefits. We propose instead that the absence of unicellular, soma-producing populations reflects their susceptibility to invasion by nondifferentiating mutants that ultimately eradicate the soma-producing lineage. We argue that multicellularity can prevent the victory of such mutants by giving germ cells preferential access to the benefits conferred by somatic cells. The absence of natural unicellular, soma-producing species previously prevented these hypotheses from being directly tested in vivo: to overcome this obstacle, we engineered strains of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that differ only in the presence or absence of multicellularity and somatic differentiation, permitting direct comparisons between organisms with different lifestyles. Our strains implement the essential features of irreversible conversion from germ line to soma, reproductive division of labor, and clonal multicellularity while maintaining sufficient generality to permit broad extension of our conclusions. Our somatic cells can provide fitness benefits that exceed the reproductive costs of their production, even in unicellular strains. We find that nondifferentiating mutants overtake unicellular populations but are outcompeted by multicellular, soma-producing strains, suggesting that multicellularity confers evolutionary stability to somatic differentiation.
Andrew Murray. 2016. “Paul Nurse and Pierre Thuriaux on wee Mutants and Cell Cycle Control.” Genetics, 204, 4, Pp. 1325-1326. Publisher's Version
Nicolas Muller, Matthieu Piel, Vincent Calvez, Raphaël Voituriez, Joana Gonçalves-Sá, Chin-Lin Guo, Xingyu Jiang, Andrew Murray, and Nicolas Meunier. 2016. “A Predictive Model for Yeast Cell Polarization in Pheromone Gradients.” PLoS Comput Biol, 12, 4, Pp. e1004795. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Budding yeast cells exist in two mating types, a and α, which use peptide pheromones to communicate with each other during mating. Mating depends on the ability of cells to polarize up pheromone gradients, but cells also respond to spatially uniform fields of pheromone by polarizing along a single axis. We used quantitative measurements of the response of a cells to α-factor to produce a predictive model of yeast polarization towards a pheromone gradient. We found that cells make a sharp transition between budding cycles and mating induced polarization and that they detect pheromone gradients accurately only over a narrow range of pheromone concentrations corresponding to this transition. We fit all the parameters of the mathematical model by using quantitative data on spontaneous polarization in uniform pheromone concentration. Once these parameters have been computed, and without any further fit, our model quantitatively predicts the yeast cell response to pheromone gradient providing an important step toward understanding how cells communicate with each other.
Andrew Murray. 2016. “Salvador Luria and Max Delbrück on Random Mutation and Fluctuation Tests.” Genetics, 202, 2, Pp. 367-8. Publisher's Version
Maxim O Lavrentovich, Mary E Wahl, David R. Nelson, and Andrew W Murray. 2016. “Spatially Constrained Growth Enhances Conversional Meltdown.” Biophys J, 110, 12, Pp. 2800-2808. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Cells that mutate or commit to a specialized function (differentiate) often undergo conversions that are effectively irreversible. Slowed growth of converted cells can act as a form of selection, balancing unidirectional conversion to maintain both cell types at a steady-state ratio. However, when one-way conversion is insufficiently counterbalanced by selection, the original cell type will ultimately be lost, often with negative impacts on the population's overall fitness. The critical balance between selection and conversion needed for preservation of unconverted cells and the steady-state ratio between cell types depends on the spatial circumstances under which cells proliferate. We present experimental data on a yeast strain engineered to undergo irreversible conversion: this synthetic system permits cell-type-specific fluorescent labeling and exogenous variation of the relative growth and conversion rates. We find that populations confined to grow on a flat agar surface are more susceptible than their well-mixed counterparts to fitness loss via a conversion-induced "meltdown." We then present analytical predictions for growth in several biologically relevant geometries-well-mixed liquid media, radially expanding two-dimensional colonies, and linear fronts in two dimensions-by employing analogies to the directed-percolation transition from nonequilibrium statistical physics. These simplified theories are consistent with the experimental results.
2015
Liedewij Laan, John H Koschwanez, and Andrew W Murray. 2015. “Evolutionary adaptation after crippling cell polarization follows reproducible trajectories.” Elife, 4. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Cells are organized by functional modules, which typically contain components whose removal severely compromises the module's function. Despite their importance, these components are not absolutely conserved between parts of the tree of life, suggesting that cells can evolve to perform the same biological functions with different proteins. We evolved Saccharomyces cerevisiae for 1000 generations without the important polarity gene BEM1. Initially the bem1∆ lineages rapidly increase in fitness and then slowly reach >90% of the fitness of their BEM1 ancestors at the end of the evolution. Sequencing their genomes and monitoring polarization reveals a common evolutionary trajectory, with a fixed sequence of adaptive mutations, each improving cell polarization by inactivating proteins. Our results show that organisms can be evolutionarily robust to physiologically destructive perturbations and suggest that recovery by gene inactivation can lead to rapid divergence in the parts list for cell biologically important functions.
Wolfram Möbius, Andrew W Murray, and David R. Nelson. 2015. “How Obstacles Perturb Population Fronts and Alter Their Genetic Structure.” PLoS Comput Biol, 11, 12, Pp. e1004615. Publisher's VersionAbstract
As populations spread into new territory, environmental heterogeneities can shape the population front and genetic composition. We focus here on the effects of an important building block of heterogeneous environments, isolated obstacles. With a combination of experiments, theory, and simulation, we show how isolated obstacles both create long-lived distortions of the front shape and amplify the effect of genetic drift. A system of bacteriophage T7 spreading on a spatially heterogeneous Escherichia coli lawn serves as an experimental model system to study population expansions. Using an inkjet printer, we create well-defined replicates of the lawn and quantitatively study the population expansion of phage T7. The transient perturbations of the population front found in the experiments are well described by a model in which the front moves with constant speed. Independent of the precise details of the expansion, we show that obstacles create a kink in the front that persists over large distances and is insensitive to the details of the obstacle's shape. The small deviations between experimental findings and the predictions of the constant speed model can be understood with a more general reaction-diffusion model, which reduces to the constant speed model when the obstacle size is large compared to the front width. Using this framework, we demonstrate that frontier genotypes just grazing the side of an isolated obstacle increase in abundance, a phenomenon we call 'geometry-enhanced genetic drift', complementary to the founder effect associated with spatial bottlenecks. Bacterial range expansions around nutrient-poor barriers and stochastic simulations confirm this prediction. The effect of the obstacle on the genealogy of individuals at the front is characterized by simulations and rationalized using the constant speed model. Lastly, we consider the effect of two obstacles on front shape and genetic composition of the population illuminating the effects expected from complex environments with many obstacles.
2014
Natalie J Nannas, Eileen T O'Toole, Mark Winey, and Andrew W Murray. 2014. “Chromosomal attachments set length and microtubule number in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae mitotic spindle.” Mol Biol Cell, 25, 25, Pp. 4034-48.Abstract
The length of the mitotic spindle varies among different cell types. A simple model for spindle length regulation requires balancing two forces: pulling, due to micro-tubules that attach to the chromosomes at their kinetochores, and pushing, due to interactions between microtubules that emanate from opposite spindle poles. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we show that spindle length scales with kinetochore number, increasing when kinetochores are inactivated and shortening on addition of synthetic or natural kinetochores, showing that kinetochore-microtubule interactions generate an inward force to balance forces that elongate the spindle. Electron microscopy shows that manipulating kinetochore number alters the number of spindle microtubules: adding extra kinetochores increases the number of spindle microtubules, suggesting kinetochore-based regulation of microtubule number.
Lucy J Colwell, Michael P. Brenner, and Andrew W Murray. 2014. “Conservation weighting functions enable covariance analyses to detect functionally important amino acids.” PLoS One, 9, 11, Pp. e107723. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The explosive growth in the number of protein sequences gives rise to the possibility of using the natural variation in sequences of homologous proteins to find residues that control different protein phenotypes. Because in many cases different phenotypes are each controlled by a group of residues, the mutations that separate one version of a phenotype from another will be correlated. Here we incorporate biological knowledge about protein phenotypes and their variability in the sequence alignment of interest into algorithms that detect correlated mutations, improving their ability to detect the residues that control those phenotypes. We demonstrate the power of this approach using simulations and recent experimental data. Applying these principles to the protein families encoded by Dscam and Protocadherin allows us to make testable predictions about the residues that dictate the specificity of molecular interactions.
Gregg A Wildenberg and Andrew W Murray. 2014. “Evolving a 24-hr oscillator in budding yeast.” Elife, 3. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We asked how a new, complex trait evolves by selecting for diurnal oscillations in the budding yeast,. We expressed yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) from a yeast promoter and selected for a regular alternation between low and high fluorescence over a 24-hr period. This selection produced changes in cell adhesion rather than YFP expression: clonal populations oscillated between single cells and multicellular clumps. The oscillations are not a response to environmental cues and continue for at least three cycles in a constant environment. We identified eight putative causative mutations in one clone and recreated the evolved phenotype in the ancestral strain. The mutated genes lack obvious relationships to each other, but multiple lineages change from the haploid to the diploid pattern of gene expression. We show that a novel, complex phenotype can evolve by small sets of mutations in genes whose molecular functions appear to be unrelated to each other.

Pages