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J Mol Evol. 2010 Sep;71(3):169-79. doi: 10.1007/s00239-010-9375-6. Epub 2010 Aug 11.

Actin gene family dynamics in cryptomonads and red algae.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Here we present evidence for a complex evolutionary history of actin genes in red algae and cryptomonads, a group that acquired photosynthesis secondarily through the engulfment of a red algal endosymbiont. Four actin genes were found in the nuclear genome of the cryptomonad, Guillardia theta, and in the genome of the red alga, Galdieria sulphuraria, a member of the Cyanidiophytina. Phylogenetic analyses reveal that the both organisms possess two distinct sequence types, designated "type-1" and "type-2." A weak but consistent phylogenetic affinity between the cryptomonad type-2 sequences and the type-2 sequences of G. sulphuraria and red algae belonging to the Rhodophytina was observed. This is consistent with the possibility that the cryptomonad type-2 sequences are derived from the red algal endosymbiont that gave rise to the cryptomonad nucleomorph and plastid. Red algae as a whole possess two very different actin sequence types, with G. sulphuraria being the only organism thus far known to possess both. The common ancestor of Rhodophytina and Cyanidiophytina may have had two actin genes, with differential loss explaining the distribution of these genes in modern-day groups. Our study provides new insight into the evolution and divergence of actin genes in cryptomonads and red algae, and in doing so underscores the challenges associated with heterogeneity in actin sequence evolution and ortholog/paralog detection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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