Send to

Choose Destination
Gene. 2009 Aug 1;442(1-2):63-72. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2009.04.011. Epub 2009 Apr 22.

The RJL family of small GTPases is an ancient eukaryotic invention probably functionally associated with the flagellar apparatus.

Author information

Charles University in Prague, Department of Botany, Czech Republic.


A patchily distributed gene family is often taken as evidence for horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events, but it may also result solely from multiple gene losses. The RJL family of uncharacterised Ras-like GTPases was previously suggested to have undergone HGT events between protists and deuterostome metazoans, owing to the apparent absence of RJL in intermediate groups (Nepomuceno-Silva, J.L., de Melo, L.D., Mendonca, S.M., Paixao, J.C., Lopes, U.G., 2004. RJLs: a new family of Ras-related GTP-binding proteins. Gene 327, 221-232). We have reanalysed the phylogenetic distribution and phylogeny of the RJL family, taking advantage of the recent expansion of sequence data available from diverse eukaryotes. We found that RJL orthologs are much more widely distributed than previously assumed. At least one representative encoding an RJL protein could be identified for each of the six major eukaryotic "supergroups" (Opisthokonta, Amoebozoa, Excavata, Archaeplastida, Chromalveolata, and Rhizaria) as well as for a species of Apusomonadida, a deep lineage that may not be specifically related to any of the recognized supergroups. Phylogenetic analyses do not support HGT of RJL genes between the major eukaryotic lineages, indicating that the RJL family was present in the last eukaryotic common ancestor and was lost several times over the course of eukaryotic evolution. Interestingly, RJL was lost from all taxa lacking flagellated cells and from a few lineages that build structurally unusual or reduced flagella, raising the intriguing possibility that RJL proteins are functionally associated with the flagellar apparatus. The RJL GTPase domain has been fused with the DnaJ domain on two separate occasions: in the Holozoa (before the split of Metazoa and choanoflagellates), giving rise to the previously known Rbj type of RJL with the DnaJ domain at the C-terminus, and independently in Alveolata resulting in novel proteins with the DnaJ domain at the N-terminus. These independent fusions suggest that RJL proteins may generally function via regulating the DnaJ-Hsp70 module.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center