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Phytochemistry. 2003 Feb;62(3):399-413.

On the origin of family 1 plant glycosyltransferases.

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Department of Biological Structure, HSBG-514, Box 357420, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA 98145-9420, USA.


The phylogeny of highly divergent multigene families is often difficult to validate but can be substantiated by inclusion of data outside of the phylogeny, such as signature motifs, intron splice site conservation, unique substitutions of conserved residues, similar gene functions, and out groups. The Family 1 Glycosyltransferases (UGTs) comprises such a highly divergent, polyphyletic multigene family. Phylogenetic comparisons of UGTs from plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, and viruses reveal that plant UGTs represent three distinct clades. The majority of the plant sequences appears to be monophyletic and have diverged after the bifurcation of the animal/fungi/plant kingdoms. The two minor clades contain the sterol and lipid glycosyltransferases and each show more homology to non-plant sequences. The lipid glycosyltransferase clade is homologous to bacterial lipid glycosyltransferases and reflects the bacterial origin of chloroplasts. The fully sequenced Arabidopsis thaliana genome contains 120 UGTs including 8 apparent pseudogenes. The phylogeny of plant glycosyltransferases is substantiated with complete phylogenetic analysis of the A. thaliana UGT multigene family, including intron-exon organization and chromosomal localization.

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