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Mol Biol Evol. 2000 Feb;17(2):213-23.

Compartment-specific isoforms of TPI and GAPDH are imported into diatom mitochondria as a fusion protein: evidence in favor of a mitochondrial origin of the eukaryotic glycolytic pathway.

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Institute of Genetics, University of Braunschweig, Germany.


Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and triosephosphate isomerase (TPI) are essential to glycolysis, the major route of carbohydrate breakdown in eukaryotes. In animals and other heterotrophic eukaryotes, both enzymes are localized in the cytosol; in photosynthetic eukaryotes, GAPDH and TPI exist as isoenzymes that function in the glycolytic pathway of the cytosol and in the Calvin cycle of chloroplasts. Here, we show that diatoms--photosynthetic protists that acquired their plastids through secondary symbiotic engulfment of a eukaryotic rhodophyte--possess an additional isoenzyme each of both GAPDH and TPI. Surprisingly, these new forms are expressed as an TPI-GAPDH fusion protein which is imported into mitochondria prior to its assembly into a tetrameric bifunctional enzyme complex. Homologs of this translational fusion are shown to be conserved and expressed also in nonphotosynthetic, heterokont-flagellated oomycetes. Phylogenetic analyses show that mitochondrial GAPDH and its N-terminal TPI fusion branch deeply within their respective eukaryotic protein phylogenies, suggesting that diatom mitochondria may have retained an ancestral state of glycolytic compartmentation that existed at the onset of mitochondrial symbiosis. These findings strongly support the view that nuclear genes for enzymes of glycolysis in eukaryotes were acquired from mitochondrial genomes and provide new insights into the evolutionary history (host-symbiont relationships) of diatoms and other heterokont-flagellated protists.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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