Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Genome Biol. 2007;8(10):R226.

Surprising complexity of the ancestral apoptosis network.

Author information

  • 1Burnham Institute for Medical Research, North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. czmasek@burnham.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Apoptosis, one of the main types of programmed cell death, is regulated and performed by a complex protein network. Studies in model organisms, mostly in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, identified a relatively simple apoptotic network consisting of only a few proteins. However, analysis of several recently sequenced invertebrate genomes, ranging from the cnidarian sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, representing one of the morphologically simplest metazoans, to the deuterostomes sea urchin and amphioxus, contradicts the current paradigm of a simple ancestral network that expanded in vertebrates.

RESULTS:

Here we show that the apoptosome-forming CED-4/Apaf-1 protein, present in single copy in vertebrate, nematode, and insect genomes, had multiple paralogs in the cnidarian-bilaterian ancestor. Different members of this ancestral Apaf-1 family led to the extant proteins in nematodes/insects and in deuterostomes, explaining significant functional differences between proteins that until now were believed to be orthologous. Similarly, the evolution of the Bcl-2 and caspase protein families appears surprisingly complex and apparently included significant gene loss in nematodes and insects and expansions in deuterostomes.

CONCLUSION:

The emerging picture of the evolution of the apoptosis network is one of a succession of lineage-specific expansions and losses, which combined with the limited number of 'apoptotic' protein families, resulted in apparent similarities between networks in different organisms that mask an underlying complex evolutionary history. Similar results are beginning to surface for other regulatory networks, contradicting the intuitive notion that regulatory networks evolved in a linear way, from simple to complex.

PMID:
17958905
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2246300
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (3)Free text

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central Icon for Faculty of 1000
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk