Send to

Choose Destination
Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2000 Dec;64(4):786-820.

Origin and evolution of the mitochondrial proteome.

Author information

Department of Molecular Evolution, Evolutionary Biology Centre, University of Uppsala, Uppsala SE 752 36, Lund University, Lund SE 223 62, Sweden.


The endosymbiotic theory for the origin of mitochondria requires substantial modification. The three identifiable ancestral sources to the proteome of mitochondria are proteins descended from the ancestral alpha-proteobacteria symbiont, proteins with no homology to bacterial orthologs, and diverse proteins with bacterial affinities not derived from alpha-proteobacteria. Random mutations in the form of deletions large and small seem to have eliminated nonessential genes from the endosymbiont-mitochondrial genome lineages. This process, together with the transfer of genes from the endosymbiont-mitochondrial genome to nuclei, has led to a marked reduction in the size of mitochondrial genomes. All proteins of bacterial descent that are encoded by nuclear genes were probably transferred by the same mechanism, involving the disintegration of mitochondria or bacteria by the intracellular membranous vacuoles of cells to release nucleic acid fragments that transform the nuclear genome. This ongoing process has intermittently introduced bacterial genes to nuclear genomes. The genomes of the last common ancestor of all organisms, in particular of mitochondria, encoded cytochrome oxidase homologues. There are no phylogenetic indications either in the mitochondrial proteome or in the nuclear genomes that the initial or subsequent function of the ancestor to the mitochondria was anaerobic. In contrast, there are indications that relatively advanced eukaryotes adapted to anaerobiosis by dismantling their mitochondria and refitting them as hydrogenosomes. Accordingly, a continuous history of aerobic respiration seems to have been the fate of most mitochondrial lineages. The initial phases of this history may have involved aerobic respiration by the symbiont functioning as a scavenger of toxic oxygen. The transition to mitochondria capable of active ATP export to the host cell seems to have required recruitment of eukaryotic ATP transport proteins from the nucleus. The identity of the ancestral host of the alpha-proteobacterial endosymbiont is unclear, but there is no indication that it was an autotroph. There are no indications of a specific alpha-proteobacterial origin to genes for glycolysis. In the absence of data to the contrary, it is assumed that the ancestral host cell was a heterotroph.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center