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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Jan;35(1):1-5.

Multiple independent horizontal transfers of informational genes from bacteria to plasmids and phages: implications for the origin of bacterial replication machinery.

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UPRES-A 8080, Equipe Phylog¿enie et Evolution Mol¿eculaires, B¿atiment 444, Universit¿e Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France.


In contrast to the universality of other central genetic mechanisms, the replication machinery of Bacteria is clearly different from those of Archaea and Eukaryotes. A large number of bacterial genes involved in DNA replication can also be found in plasmids and phages. Based on this, it has been recently proposed that the ancestral bacterial genes were displaced by non-orthologous replication genes from plasmids and phages, which would explain the profound difference between Bacteria and the other domains of life. The alternative hypothesis is that these DNA replication genes have been frequently transferred from bacterial hosts to the genomes of their plasmids and phages. The phylogenetic analysis of the bacterial DNA replication proteins most abundant in databases (replicative helicase DnaB, single-strand binding protein Ssb and topoisomerase TopB) presented here supports the latter hypothesis. Each protein tree shows that sequences from plasmids and phages branch close to their bacterial-specific hosts, suggesting multiple independent horizontal transfers. Therefore, there is no evidence so far for non-orthologous gene displacement of these genes.

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