Molecular Biology and Evolution vol:20 pages:doi: 10.1093/molbev/mst029
Escherichia coli K12 is a commensal bacteria and one of the best-studied model organisms. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, on the other hand, is a facultative intracellular pathogen. These two prokaryotic species can be considered related phylogenetically and they share a large amount of their genetic material, which is commonly termed the 'core genome'. Despite their shared core genome, both species display very different life styles and it is unclear to what extent the core genome, apart from the species-specific genes, plays a role in this lifestyle divergence. In this study, we focus on the differences in expression domains for the orthologous genes in E. coli and S. Typhimurium. The iterative comparison of coexpression methodology was used on large expression compendia of both species to uncover the conservation and divergence of gene expression. We found that gene expression conservation occurs mostly independent from amino acid similarity. According to our estimates, at least more than one quarter of the orthologous genes has a different expression domain in E. coli than in S. Typhimurium. Genes involved with key cellular processes are most likely to have conserved their expression domains whereas genes showing diverged expression are associated with metabolic processes that, although present in both species, are regulated differently. The expression domains of the shared 'core' genome of E. coli and S. Typhimurium, consisting of highly conserved orthologs, have been tuned to help accommodate the differences in lifestyle and the pathogenic potential of Salmonella.