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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Feb 5;99(3):1414-9.

The analysis of 100 genes supports the grouping of three highly divergent amoebae: Dictyostelium, Entamoeba, and Mastigamoeba.

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  • 1Unité Mixte de Recherche 7622 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Paris 6, 9 Quai Saint Bernard, Bât C, 75005 Paris, France.


The phylogenetic relationships of amoebae are poorly resolved. To address this difficult question, we have sequenced 1,280 expressed sequence tags from Mastigamoeba balamuthi and assembled a large data set containing 123 genes for representatives of three phenotypically highly divergent major amoeboid lineages: Pelobionta, Entamoebidae, and Mycetozoa. Phylogenetic reconstruction was performed on approximately 25,000 aa positions for 30 species by using maximum-likelihood approaches. All well-established eukaryotic groups were recovered with high statistical support, validating our approach. Interestingly, the three amoeboid lineages strongly clustered together in agreement with the Conosa hypothesis [as defined by T. Cavalier-Smith (1998) Biol. Rev. Cambridge Philos. Soc. 73, 203-266]. Two amitochondriate amoebae, the free-living Mastigamoeba and the human parasite Entamoeba, formed a significant sister group to the exclusion of the mycetozoan Dictyostelium. This result suggested that a part of the reductive process in the evolution of Entamoeba (e.g., loss of typical mitochondria) occurred in its free-living ancestors. Applying this inexpensive expressed sequence tag approach to many other lineages will surely improve our understanding of eukaryotic evolution.

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