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1.  Plasma Membrane-Located Purine Nucleotide Transport Proteins Are Key Components for Host Exploitation by Microsporidian Intracellular Parasites 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004547.
Microsporidia are obligate intracellular parasites of most animal groups including humans, but despite their significant economic and medical importance there are major gaps in our understanding of how they exploit infected host cells. We have investigated the evolution, cellular locations and substrate specificities of a family of nucleotide transport (NTT) proteins from Trachipleistophora hominis, a microsporidian isolated from an HIV/AIDS patient. Transport proteins are critical to microsporidian success because they compensate for the dramatic loss of metabolic pathways that is a hallmark of the group. Our data demonstrate that the use of plasma membrane-located nucleotide transport proteins (NTT) is a key strategy adopted by microsporidians to exploit host cells. Acquisition of an ancestral transporter gene at the base of the microsporidian radiation was followed by lineage-specific events of gene duplication, which in the case of T. hominis has generated four paralogous NTT transporters. All four T. hominis NTT proteins are located predominantly to the plasma membrane of replicating intracellular cells where they can mediate transport at the host-parasite interface. In contrast to published data for Encephalitozoon cuniculi, we found no evidence for the location for any of the T. hominis NTT transporters to its minimal mitochondria (mitosomes), consistent with lineage-specific differences in transporter and mitosome evolution. All of the T. hominis NTTs transported radiolabelled purine nucleotides (ATP, ADP, GTP and GDP) when expressed in Escherichia coli, but did not transport radiolabelled pyrimidine nucleotides. Genome analysis suggests that imported purine nucleotides could be used by T. hominis to make all of the critical purine-based building-blocks for DNA and RNA biosynthesis during parasite intracellular replication, as well as providing essential energy for parasite cellular metabolism and protein synthesis.
Author Summary
Microsporidians are highly reduced obligate intracellular eukaryotic parasites that cause significant disease in humans, animals and commercially relevant insects. Despite their medical and economic interest the mechanisms whereby microsporidians exploit the cells they infect are mainly unknown. We have characterised a conserved family of nucleotide transport proteins that we demonstrate have key roles in parasite biology. Microsporidians cannot synthesize the primary building blocks needed to make DNA and RNA for themselves, so they must import the starting materials from the infected host. We show that the microsporidian Trachipleistophora hominis, originally isolated from an HIV/AIDS patient, may achieve this by using four nucleotide transport proteins located in the plasma membrane of replicating intracellular parasites. In functional assays we demonstrate that all four proteins can transport radiolabelled adenine and guanine nucleotides. Genome analysis suggests that the imported nucleotides could be transformed by T. hominis into all of the critical purine-based building-blocks needed for DNA and RNA biosynthesis during parasite intracellular replication, as well as providing essential energy for parasite cellular metabolism and protein synthesis.
PMCID: PMC4256464  PMID: 25474405
2.  Transport proteins of parasitic protists and their role in nutrient salvage 
The loss of key biosynthetic pathways is a common feature of important parasitic protists, making them heavily dependent on scavenging nutrients from their hosts. This is often mediated by specialized transporter proteins that ensure the nutritional requirements of the parasite are met. Over the past decade, the completion of several parasite genome projects has facilitated the identification of parasite transporter proteins. This has been complemented by functional characterization of individual transporters along with investigations into their importance for parasite survival. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on transporters from parasitic protists and highlight commonalities and differences in the transporter repertoires of different parasitic species, with particular focus on characterized transporters that act at the host-pathogen interface.
PMCID: PMC4010794  PMID: 24808897
transporter; transport; parasite; protist; protozoa; hexose; purine; amino acid
3.  Reduction and Expansion in Microsporidian Genome Evolution: New Insights from Comparative Genomics 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2013;5(12):2285-2303.
Microsporidia are an abundant group of obligate intracellular parasites of other eukaryotes, including immunocompromised humans, but the molecular basis of their intracellular lifestyle and pathobiology are poorly understood. New genomes from a taxonomically broad range of microsporidians, complemented by published expression data, provide an opportunity for comparative analyses to identify conserved and lineage-specific patterns of microsporidian genome evolution that have underpinned this success. In this study, we infer that a dramatic bottleneck in the last common microsporidian ancestor (LCMA) left a small conserved core of genes that was subsequently embellished by gene family expansion driven by gene acquisition in different lineages. Novel expressed protein families represent a substantial fraction of sequenced microsporidian genomes and are significantly enriched for signals consistent with secretion or membrane location. Further evidence of selection is inferred from the gain and reciprocal loss of functional domains between paralogous genes, for example, affecting transport proteins. Gene expansions among transporter families preferentially affect those that are located on the plasma membrane of model organisms, consistent with recruitment to plug conserved gaps in microsporidian biosynthesis and metabolism. Core microsporidian genes shared with other eukaryotes are enriched in orthologs that, in yeast, are highly expressed, highly connected, and often essential, consistent with strong negative selection against further reduction of the conserved gene set since the LCMA. Our study reveals that microsporidian genome evolution is a highly dynamic process that has balanced constraint, reductive evolution, and genome expansion during adaptation to an extraordinarily successful obligate intracellular lifestyle.
PMCID: PMC3879972  PMID: 24259309
Microsporidia; intracellular parasites; evolution; genome reduction; gene duplication; novel gene families
4.  Patterns of prokaryotic lateral gene transfers affecting parasitic microbial eukaryotes 
Genome Biology  2013;14(2):R19.
The influence of lateral gene transfer on gene origins and biology in eukaryotes is poorly understood compared with those of prokaryotes. A number of independent investigations focusing on specific genes, individual genomes, or specific functional categories from various eukaryotes have indicated that lateral gene transfer does indeed affect eukaryotic genomes. However, the lack of common methodology and criteria in these studies makes it difficult to assess the general importance and influence of lateral gene transfer on eukaryotic genome evolution.
We used a phylogenomic approach to systematically investigate lateral gene transfer affecting the proteomes of thirteen, mainly parasitic, microbial eukaryotes, representing four of the six eukaryotic super-groups. All of the genomes investigated have been significantly affected by prokaryote-to-eukaryote lateral gene transfers, dramatically affecting the enzymes of core pathways, particularly amino acid and sugar metabolism, but also providing new genes of potential adaptive significance in the life of parasites. A broad range of prokaryotic donors is involved in such transfers, but there is clear and significant enrichment for bacterial groups that share the same habitats, including the human microbiota, as the parasites investigated.
Our data show that ecology and lifestyle strongly influence gene origins and opportunities for gene transfer and reveal that, although the outlines of the core eukaryotic metabolism are conserved among lineages, the genes making up those pathways can have very different origins in different eukaryotes. Thus, from the perspective of the effects of lateral gene transfer on individual gene ancestries in different lineages, eukaryotic metabolism appears to be chimeric.
PMCID: PMC4053834  PMID: 23442822
Genome evolution; phylogenomics; lateral gene transfer; eukaryotes; parasites
5.  The Genome of the Obligate Intracellular Parasite Trachipleistophora hominis: New Insights into Microsporidian Genome Dynamics and Reductive Evolution 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(10):e1002979.
The dynamics of reductive genome evolution for eukaryotes living inside other eukaryotic cells are poorly understood compared to well-studied model systems involving obligate intracellular bacteria. Here we present 8.5 Mb of sequence from the genome of the microsporidian Trachipleistophora hominis, isolated from an HIV/AIDS patient, which is an outgroup to the smaller compacted-genome species that primarily inform ideas of evolutionary mode for these enormously successful obligate intracellular parasites. Our data provide detailed information on the gene content, genome architecture and intergenic regions of a larger microsporidian genome, while comparative analyses allowed us to infer genomic features and metabolism of the common ancestor of the species investigated. Gene length reduction and massive loss of metabolic capacity in the common ancestor was accompanied by the evolution of novel microsporidian-specific protein families, whose conservation among microsporidians, against a background of reductive evolution, suggests they may have important functions in their parasitic lifestyle. The ancestor had already lost many metabolic pathways but retained glycolysis and the pentose phosphate pathway to provide cytosolic ATP and reduced coenzymes, and it had a minimal mitochondrion (mitosome) making Fe-S clusters but not ATP. It possessed bacterial-like nucleotide transport proteins as a key innovation for stealing host-generated ATP, the machinery for RNAi, key elements of the early secretory pathway, canonical eukaryotic as well as microsporidian-specific regulatory elements, a diversity of repetitive and transposable elements, and relatively low average gene density. Microsporidian genome evolution thus appears to have proceeded in at least two major steps: an ancestral remodelling of the proteome upon transition to intracellular parasitism that involved reduction but also selective expansion, followed by a secondary compaction of genome architecture in some, but not all, lineages.
Author Summary
Microsporidians are enormously successful obligate intracellular parasites of animals, including humans. Despite their economic and medical importance, there are major gaps in our understanding of how microsporidians have made the transition from a free-living organism to one that can only complete its life cycle by living inside another cell. We present the larger genome of Trachipleistophora hominis isolated from a human patient with HIV/AIDS. Our analyses provide insights into the gene content, genome architecture and intergenic regions of a known opportunistic pathogen, and will facilitate the development of T. hominis as a much-needed model species that can also be grown in co-culture. The genome of T. hominis has more genes than other microsporidians, it has diverse regulatory motifs, and it contains a variety of transposable elements coupled with the machinery for RNA interference, which may eventually allow experimental down-regulation of T. hominis genes. Comparison of the genome of T. hominis with other microsporidians allowed us to infer properties of their common ancestor. Our analyses predict an ancestral microsporidian that was already an intracellular parasite with a reduced core proteome but one with a relatively large genome populated with diverse repetitive elements and a complex transcriptional regulatory network.
PMCID: PMC3486916  PMID: 23133373
6.  A Novel Extracellular Metallopeptidase Domain Shared by Animal Host-Associated Mutualistic and Pathogenic Microbes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30287.
The mucosal microbiota is recognised as an important factor for our health, with many disease states linked to imbalances in the normal community structure. Hence, there is considerable interest in identifying the molecular basis of human-microbe interactions. In this work we investigated the capacity of microbes to thrive on mucosal surfaces, either as mutualists, commensals or pathogens, using comparative genomics to identify co-occurring molecular traits. We identified a novel domain we named M60-like/PF13402 (new Pfam entry PF13402), which was detected mainly among proteins from animal host mucosa-associated prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes ranging from mutualists to pathogens. Lateral gene transfers between distantly related microbes explained their shared M60-like/PF13402 domain. The novel domain is characterised by a zinc-metallopeptidase-like motif and is distantly related to known viral enhancin zinc-metallopeptidases. Signal peptides and/or cell surface anchoring features were detected in most microbial M60-like/PF13402 domain-containing proteins, indicating that these proteins target an extracellular substrate. A significant subset of these putative peptidases was further characterised by the presence of associated domains belonging to carbohydrate-binding module family 5/12, 32 and 51 and other glycan-binding domains, suggesting that these novel proteases are targeted to complex glycoproteins such as mucins. An in vitro mucinase assay demonstrated degradation of mammalian mucins by a recombinant form of an M60-like/PF13402-containing protein from the gut mutualist Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. This study reveals that M60-like domains are peptidases targeting host glycoproteins. These peptidases likely play an important role in successful colonisation of both vertebrate mucosal surfaces and the invertebrate digestive tract by both mutualistic and pathogenic microbes. Moreover, 141 entries across various peptidase families described in the MEROPS database were also identified with carbohydrate-binding modules defining a new functional context for these glycan-binding domains and providing opportunities to engineer proteases targeting specific glycoproteins for both biomedical and industrial applications.
PMCID: PMC3267712  PMID: 22299034
7.  Diversity and reductive evolution of mitochondria among microbial eukaryotes 
All extant eukaryotes are now considered to possess mitochondria in one form or another. Many parasites or anaerobic protists have highly reduced versions of mitochondria, which have generally lost their genome and the capacity to generate ATP through oxidative phosphorylation. These organelles have been called hydrogenosomes, when they make hydrogen, or remnant mitochondria or mitosomes when their functions were cryptic. More recently, organelles with features blurring the distinction between mitochondria, hydrogenosomes and mitosomes have been identified. These organelles have retained a mitochondrial genome and include the mitochondrial-like organelle of Blastocystis and the hydrogenosome of the anaerobic ciliate Nyctotherus. Studying eukaryotic diversity from the perspective of their mitochondrial variants has yielded important insights into eukaryote molecular cell biology and evolution. These investigations are contributing to understanding the essential functions of mitochondria, defined in the broadest sense, and the limits to which reductive evolution can proceed while maintaining a viable organelle.
PMCID: PMC2817227  PMID: 20124340
mitochondria; hydrogenosomes; mitosomes; mitochondrial-like organelles
8.  A Metazoan/Plant-like Capping Enzyme and Cap Modified Nucleotides in the Unicellular Eukaryote Trichomonas vaginalis 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(7):e1000999.
The cap structure of eukaryotic messenger RNAs is initially elaborated through three enzymatic reactions: hydrolysis of the 5′-triphosphate, transfer of guanosine through a 5′-5′ triphosphate linkage and N7-methylation of the guanine cap. Three distinctive enzymes catalyze each reaction in various microbial eukaryotes, whereas the first two enzymes are fused into a single polypeptide in metazoans and plants. In addition to the guanosine cap, adjacent nucleotides are 2′-O-ribose methylated in metazoa and plants, but not in yeast. Analyses of various cap structures have suggested a linear phylogenetic trend of complexity. These findings have led to a model in which plants and metazoa evolved a two-component capping apparatus and modification of adjacent nucleotides while many microbial eukaryotes maintained the three-component system and did not develop modification of adjacent nucleotides. Here, we have characterized a bifunctional capping enzyme in the divergent microbial eukaryote Trichomonas vaginalis using biochemical and phylogenetic analyses. This unicellular parasite was found to harbor a metazoan/plant-like capping apparatus that is represented by a two-domain polypeptide containing a C-terminus guanylyltransferase and a cysteinyl phosphatase triphosphatase, distinct from its counterpart in other microbial eukaryotes. In addition, T. vaginalis mRNAs contain a cap 1 structure represented by m7GpppAmpUp or m7GpppCmpUp; a feature typical of metazoan and plant mRNAs but absent in yeast mRNAs. Phylogenetic and biochemical analyses of the origin of the T. vaginalis capping enzyme suggests a complex evolutionary model where differential gene loss and/or acquisition occurred in the development of the RNA capping apparatus and cap modified nucleotides during eukaryote diversification.
Author Summary
The protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis is the cause of the most common non-viral sexually transmitted disease worldwide. Evolutionary analyses place Trichomonas in a super group called the Excavata, which includes the kinetoplastids and is highly divergent from fungi, metazoa and plants. Despite the vast evolutionary distances that separate these different eukaryotic lineages, a simplified view of eukaryotic evolution based on the complexity of nucleotide modifications at the 5′ end of mRNAs and the distribution of different types of enzymatic apparatus that confer these modifications has been proposed. Our analyses of the T. vaginalis capping enzyme challenges this view and provides the first example of a two-component capping apparatus typically found in metazoa and plants in a protozoan. The 5′-end nucleotide structure of T. vaginalis mRNAs is also shown to contain additional modified nucleotides, similar to that observed for metazoan and plant mRNAs and unlike that found in most eukaryotic microbes and fungi. Evolutionary analyses of the T. vaginalis capping enzyme indicates that this multicellular type capping apparatus may have come into existence earlier than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC2904801  PMID: 20664792
9.  Trichomonas vaginalis vast BspA-like gene family: evidence for functional diversity from structural organisation and transcriptomics 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:99.
Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common non-viral human sexually transmitted pathogen and importantly, contributes to facilitating the spread of HIV. Yet very little is known about its surface and secreted proteins mediating interactions with, and permitting the invasion and colonisation of, the host mucosa. Initial annotations of T. vaginalis genome identified a plethora of candidate extracellular proteins.
Data mining of the T. vaginalis genome identified 911 BspA-like entries (TvBspA) sharing TpLRR-like leucine-rich repeats, which represent the largest gene family encoding potential extracellular proteins for the pathogen. A broad range of microorganisms encoding BspA-like proteins was identified and these are mainly known to live on mucosal surfaces, among these T. vaginalis is endowed with the largest gene family. Over 190 TvBspA proteins with inferred transmembrane domains were characterised by a considerable structural diversity between their TpLRR and other types of repetitive sequences and two subfamilies possessed distinct classic sorting signal motifs for endocytosis. One TvBspA subfamily also shared a glycine-rich protein domain with proteins from Clostridium difficile pathogenic strains and C. difficile phages. Consistent with the hypothesis that TvBspA protein structural diversity implies diverse roles, we demonstrated for several TvBspA genes differential expression at the transcript level in different growth conditions. Identified variants of repetitive segments between several TvBspA paralogues and orthologues from two clinical isolates were also consistent with TpLRR and other repetitive sequences to be functionally important. For one TvBspA protein cell surface expression and antibody responses by both female and male T. vaginalis infected patients were also demonstrated.
The biased mucosal habitat for microbial species encoding BspA-like proteins, the characterisation of a vast structural diversity for the TvBspA proteins, differential expression of a subset of TvBspA genes and the cellular localisation and immunological data for one TvBspA; all point to the importance of the TvBspA proteins to various aspects of T. vaginalis pathobiology at the host-pathogen interface.
PMCID: PMC2843621  PMID: 20144183
10.  Trichomonas vaginalis virulence factors: an integrative overview 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  2013;89(6):439-443.
The elusive nature of Trichomonas vaginalis, the most common, non-viral, sexually transmitted pathogen has hampered our knowledge of its significance for human health for over 150 years. The combination of epidemiology, molecular cell biology, immunology and more recently genomics and other allied omics data, are all contributing at shedding new light onto what is increasingly recognised as a significant human pathogen leading to important health sequelae due to multifaceted interactions with its human host, the human microbiota, bacterial pathogens and viruses. The integrations of these various data are contributing in important ways to refining our understanding of the parasite pathobiology and virulent factors. Indeed, it is increasingly recognised that to rationalise the development of effective prophylactic and therapeutic treatments for human pathogens it is important to integrate the broadest possible spectrum of human-microbial-parasite-virus interactions in relation to qualitative and quantitative variations in the human innate and adaptive defence responses. This short review aims at providing an integrative overview of T vaginalis virulent factors by taking into account the importance of the human-microbiota-parasite-virus interplay in human health. It also highlights selected cellular characteristics of the parasite often overlooked in the biological and medical literature.
PMCID: PMC3749517  PMID: 23694938
11.  Reductive Evolution of the Mitochondrial Processing Peptidases of the Unicellular Parasites Trichomonas vaginalis and Giardia intestinalis 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(12):e1000243.
Mitochondrial processing peptidases are heterodimeric enzymes (α/βMPP) that play an essential role in mitochondrial biogenesis by recognizing and cleaving the targeting presequences of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins. The two subunits are paralogues that probably evolved by duplication of a gene for a monomeric metallopeptidase from the endosymbiotic ancestor of mitochondria. Here, we characterize the MPP-like proteins from two important human parasites that contain highly reduced versions of mitochondria, the mitosomes of Giardia intestinalis and the hydrogenosomes of Trichomonas vaginalis. Our biochemical characterization of recombinant proteins showed that, contrary to a recent report, the Trichomonas processing peptidase functions efficiently as an α/β heterodimer. By contrast, and so far uniquely among eukaryotes, the Giardia processing peptidase functions as a monomer comprising a single βMPP-like catalytic subunit. The structure and surface charge distribution of the Giardia processing peptidase predicted from a 3-D protein model appear to have co-evolved with the properties of Giardia mitosomal targeting sequences, which, unlike classic mitochondrial targeting signals, are typically short and impoverished in positively charged residues. The majority of hydrogenosomal presequences resemble those of mitosomes, but longer, positively charged mitochondrial-type presequences were also identified, consistent with the retention of the Trichomonas αMPP-like subunit. Our computational and experimental/functional analyses reveal that the divergent processing peptidases of Giardia mitosomes and Trichomonas hydrogenosomes evolved from the same ancestral heterodimeric α/βMPP metallopeptidase as did the classic mitochondrial enzyme. The unique monomeric structure of the Giardia enzyme, and the co-evolving properties of the Giardia enzyme and substrate, provide a compelling example of the power of reductive evolution to shape parasite biology.
Author Summary
In classic model organisms, cleavage of signals that are required to deliver nuclear-encoded proteins to mitochondria is mediated by an enzyme comprising two different subunits, called α or β, neither of which is functional by itself. Here, we have characterized a novel enzyme that functions in the mitosome, a highly reduced mitochondrion, of the pathogenic protist Giardia intestinalis. The Giardia enzyme is unique among eukaryotes because it has undergone reductive evolution to function efficiently as a single β-subunit monomer. We also show that the recent claim that the equivalent enzyme in the hydrogenosome, another type of reduced mitochondrion of the human parasite Trichomonas vaginalis, functions as a homodimer of two β-subunits, is not supported. The Trichomonas enzyme requires both an α- and a β-subunit to function most efficiently. Computational analysis of the Giardia and Trichomonas enzymes reveals that their structures and surface charge distributions have co-evolved to match the peculiar properties of the targeting signals that they process. The Giardia mitosome is an ideal model for studying the limits of mitochondrial reductive evolution and, because it makes cofactors that are essential for Giardia survival, is a potential therapeutic target for this important human parasite.
PMCID: PMC2597178  PMID: 19096520
12.  Draft Genome Sequence of the Sexually Transmitted Pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;315(5809):207-212.
We describe the genome sequence of the protist Trichomonas vaginalis, a sexually transmitted human pathogen. Repeats and transposable elements comprise about two-thirds of the ~160-megabase genome, reflecting a recent massive expansion of genetic material. This expansion, in conjunction with the shaping of metabolic pathways that likely transpired through lateral gene transfer from bacteria, and amplification of specific gene families implicated in pathogenesis and phagocytosis of host proteins may exemplify adaptations of the parasite during its transition to a urogenital environment. The genome sequence predicts previously unknown functions for the hydrogenosome, which support a common evolutionary origin of this unusual organelle with mitochondria.
PMCID: PMC2080659  PMID: 17218520
13.  A genomic survey of the fish parasite Spironucleus salmonicida indicates genomic plasticity among diplomonads and significant lateral gene transfer in eukaryote genome evolution 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:51.
Comparative genomic studies of the mitochondrion-lacking protist group Diplomonadida (diplomonads) has been lacking, although Giardia lamblia has been intensively studied. We have performed a sequence survey project resulting in 2341 expressed sequence tags (EST) corresponding to 853 unique clones, 5275 genome survey sequences (GSS), and eleven finished contigs from the diplomonad fish parasite Spironucleus salmonicida (previously described as S. barkhanus).
The analyses revealed a compact genome with few, if any, introns and very short 3' untranslated regions. Strikingly different patterns of codon usage were observed in genes corresponding to frequently sampled ESTs versus genes poorly sampled, indicating that translational selection is influencing the codon usage of highly expressed genes. Rigorous phylogenomic analyses identified 84 genes – mostly encoding metabolic proteins – that have been acquired by diplomonads or their relatively close ancestors via lateral gene transfer (LGT). Although most acquisitions were from prokaryotes, more than a dozen represent likely transfers of genes between eukaryotic lineages. Many genes that provide novel insights into the genetic basis of the biology and pathogenicity of this parasitic protist were identified including 149 that putatively encode variant-surface cysteine-rich proteins which are candidate virulence factors. A number of genomic properties that distinguish S. salmonicida from its human parasitic relative G. lamblia were identified such as nineteen putative lineage-specific gene acquisitions, distinct mutational biases and codon usage and distinct polyadenylation signals.
Our results highlight the power of comparative genomic studies to yield insights into the biology of parasitic protists and the evolution of their genomes, and suggest that genetic exchange between distantly-related protist lineages may be occurring at an appreciable rate in eukaryote genome evolution.
PMCID: PMC1805757  PMID: 17298675
14.  Evolution of four gene families with patchy phylogenetic distributions: influx of genes into protist genomes 
Lateral gene transfer (LGT) in eukaryotes from non-organellar sources is a controversial subject in need of further study. Here we present gene distribution and phylogenetic analyses of the genes encoding the hybrid-cluster protein, A-type flavoprotein, glucosamine-6-phosphate isomerase, and alcohol dehydrogenase E. These four genes have a limited distribution among sequenced prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes and were previously implicated in gene transfer events affecting eukaryotes. If our previous contention that these genes were introduced by LGT independently into the diplomonad and Entamoeba lineages were true, we expect that the number of putative transfers and the phylogenetic signal supporting LGT should be stable or increase, rather than decrease, when novel eukaryotic and prokaryotic homologs are added to the analyses.
The addition of homologs from phagotrophic protists, including several Entamoeba species, the pelobiont Mastigamoeba balamuthi, and the parabasalid Trichomonas vaginalis, and a large quantity of sequences from genome projects resulted in an apparent increase in the number of putative transfer events affecting all three domains of life. Some of the eukaryotic transfers affect a wide range of protists, such as three divergent lineages of Amoebozoa, represented by Entamoeba, Mastigamoeba, and Dictyostelium, while other transfers only affect a limited diversity, for example only the Entamoeba lineage. These observations are consistent with a model where these genes have been introduced into protist genomes independently from various sources over a long evolutionary time.
Phylogenetic analyses of the updated datasets using more sophisticated phylogenetic methods, in combination with the gene distribution analyses, strengthened, rather than weakened, the support for LGT as an important mechanism affecting the evolution of these gene families. Thus, gene transfer seems to be an on-going evolutionary mechanism by which genes are spread between unrelated lineages of all three domains of life, further indicating the importance of LGT from non-organellar sources into eukaryotic genomes.
PMCID: PMC1484493  PMID: 16551352

Results 1-14 (14)