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      Early evolution of the biotin-dependent carboxylase family

      1 , , 1

      BMC Evolutionary Biology

      BioMed Central

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          Biotin-dependent carboxylases are a diverse family of carboxylating enzymes widespread in the three domains of life, and thus thought to be very ancient. This family includes enzymes that carboxylate acetyl-CoA, propionyl-CoA, methylcrotonyl-CoA, geranyl-CoA, acyl-CoA, pyruvate and urea. They share a common catalytic mechanism involving a biotin carboxylase domain, which fixes a CO 2 molecule on a biotin carboxyl carrier peptide, and a carboxyl transferase domain, which transfers the CO 2 moiety to the specific substrate of each enzyme. Despite this overall similarity, biotin-dependent carboxylases from the three domains of life carrying their reaction on different substrates adopt very diverse protein domain arrangements. This has made difficult the resolution of their evolutionary history up to now.


          Taking advantage of the availability of a large amount of genomic data, we have carried out phylogenomic analyses to get new insights on the ancient evolution of the biotin-dependent carboxylases. This allowed us to infer the set of enzymes present in the last common ancestor of each domain of life and in the last common ancestor of all living organisms (the cenancestor). Our results suggest that the last common archaeal ancestor had two biotin-dependent carboxylases, whereas the last common bacterial ancestor had three. One of these biotin-dependent carboxylases ancestral to Bacteria most likely belonged to a large family, the CoA-bearing-substrate carboxylases, that we define here according to protein domain composition and phylogenetic analysis. Eukaryotes most likely acquired their biotin-dependent carboxylases through the mitochondrial and plastid endosymbioses as well as from other unknown bacterial donors. Finally, phylogenetic analyses support previous suggestions about the existence of an ancient bifunctional biotin-protein ligase bound to a regulatory transcription factor.


          The most parsimonious scenario for the early evolution of the biotin-dependent carboxylases, supported by the study of protein domain composition and phylogenomic analyses, entails that the cenancestor possessed two different carboxylases able to carry out the specific carboxylation of pyruvate and the non-specific carboxylation of several CoA-bearing substrates, respectively. These enzymes may have been able to participate in very diverse metabolic pathways in the cenancestor, such as in ancestral versions of fatty acid biosynthesis, anaplerosis, gluconeogenesis and the autotrophic fixation of CO 2.

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          Most cited references 69

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          TREEFINDER: a powerful graphical analysis environment for molecular phylogenetics

          Background Most analysis programs for inferring molecular phylogenies are difficult to use, in particular for researchers with little programming experience. Results TREEFINDER is an easy-to-use integrative platform-independent analysis environment for molecular phylogenetics. In this paper the main features of TREEFINDER (version of April 2004) are described. TREEFINDER is written in ANSI C and Java and implements powerful statistical approaches for inferring gene tree and related analyzes. In addition, it provides a user-friendly graphical interface and a phylogenetic programming language. Conclusions TREEFINDER is a versatile framework for analyzing phylogenetic data across different platforms that is suited both for exploratory as well as advanced studies.
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            On the origins of cells: a hypothesis for the evolutionary transitions from abiotic geochemistry to chemoautotrophic prokaryotes, and from prokaryotes to nucleated cells.

            All life is organized as cells. Physical compartmentation from the environment and self-organization of self-contained redox reactions are the most conserved attributes of living things, hence inorganic matter with such attributes would be life's most likely forebear. We propose that life evolved in structured iron monosulphide precipitates in a seepage site hydrothermal mound at a redox, pH and temperature gradient between sulphide-rich hydrothermal fluid and iron(II)-containing waters of the Hadean ocean floor. The naturally arising, three-dimensional compartmentation observed within fossilized seepage-site metal sulphide precipitates indicates that these inorganic compartments were the precursors of cell walls and membranes found in free-living prokaryotes. The known capability of FeS and NiS to catalyse the synthesis of the acetyl-methylsulphide from carbon monoxide and methylsulphide, constituents of hydrothermal fluid, indicates that pre-biotic syntheses occurred at the inner surfaces of these metal-sulphide-walled compartments, which furthermore restrained reacted products from diffusion into the ocean, providing sufficient concentrations of reactants to forge the transition from geochemistry to biochemistry. The chemistry of what is known as the RNA-world could have taken place within these naturally forming, catalyticwalled compartments to give rise to replicating systems. Sufficient concentrations of precursors to support replication would have been synthesized in situ geochemically and biogeochemically, with FeS (and NiS) centres playing the central catalytic role. The universal ancestor we infer was not a free-living cell, but rather was confined to the naturally chemiosmotic, FeS compartments within which the synthesis of its constituents occurred. The first free-living cells are suggested to have been eubacterial and archaebacterial chemoautotrophs that emerged more than 3.8 Gyr ago from their inorganic confines. We propose that the emergence of these prokaryotic lineages from inorganic confines occurred independently, facilitated by the independent origins of membrane-lipid biosynthesis: isoprenoid ether membranes in the archaebacterial and fatty acid ester membranes in the eubacterial lineage. The eukaryotes, all of which are ancestrally heterotrophs and possess eubacterial lipids, are suggested to have arisen ca. 2 Gyr ago through symbiosis involving an autotrophic archaebacterial host and a heterotrophic eubacterial symbiont, the common ancestor of mitochondria and hydrogenosomes. The attributes shared by all prokaryotes are viewed as inheritances from their confined universal ancestor. The attributes that distinguish eubacteria and archaebacteria, yet are uniform within the groups, are viewed as relics of their phase of differentiation after divergence from the non-free-living universal ancestor and before the origin of the free-living chemoautotrophic lifestyle. The attributes shared by eukaryotes with eubacteria and archaebacteria, respectively, are viewed as inheritances via symbiosis. The attributes unique to eukaryotes are viewed as inventions specific to their lineage. The origin of the eukaryotic endomembrane system and nuclear membrane are suggested to be the fortuitous result of the expression of genes for eubacterial membrane lipid synthesis by an archaebacterial genetic apparatus in a compartment that was not fully prepared to accommodate such compounds, resulting in vesicles of eubacterial lipids that accumulated in the cytosol around their site of synthesis. Under these premises, the most ancient divide in the living world is that between eubacteria and archaebacteria, yet the steepest evolutionary grade is that between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
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              GOR method for predicting protein secondary structure from amino acid sequence.


                Author and article information

                BMC Evol Biol
                BMC Evolutionary Biology
                BioMed Central
                9 August 2011
                : 11
                : 232
                [1 ]Unité d'Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, UMR CNRS 8079, Univ. Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
                Copyright ©2011 Lombard and Moreira; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Evolutionary Biology


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