Citation Bekaert M & Conant GC (2014) Gene duplication and phenotypic changes in the evolution of Mammalian metabolic networks. PLoS ONE, 9 (1), Art. No.: e87115. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087115
Abstract Metabolic networks attempt to describe the complete suite of biochemical reactions available to an organism. One notable feature of these networks in mammals is the large number of distinct proteins that catalyze the same reaction. While the existence of these isoenzymes has long been known, their evolutionary significance is still unclear. Using a phylogenetically-aware comparative genomics approach, we infer enzyme orthology networks for sixteen mammals as well as for their common ancestors. We find that the pattern of isoenzymes copy-number alterations (CNAs) in these networks is suggestive of natural selection acting on the retention of certain gene duplications. When further analyzing these data with a machine-learning approach, we found that that the pattern of CNAs is also predictive of several important phenotypic traits, including milk composition and geographic range. Integrating tools from network analyses, phylogenetics and comparative genomics both allows the prediction of phenotypes from genetic data and represents a means of unifying distinct biological disciplines.