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J Mol Evol. 1997 Jun;44(6):614-24.

Structural and evolutionary relationships among chitinases of flowering plants.

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Département de biochimie, Faculté des sciences et de génie, Pavillon Charles-Eugène-Marchand, Université Laval, Québec Qc, Canada G1K 7P4.


The analysis of nuclear-encoded chitinase sequences from various angiosperms has allowed the categorization of the chitinases into discrete classes. Nucleotide sequences of their catalytic domains were compared in this study to investigate the evolutionary relationships between chitinase classes. The functionally distinct class III chitinases appear to be more closely related to fungal enzymes involved in morphogenesis than to other plant chitinases. The ordering of other plant chitinases into additional classes mainly relied on the presence of auxiliary domains-namely, a chitin-binding domain and a carboxy-terminal extension-flanking the main catalytic domain. The results of our phylogenetic analyses showed that classes I and IV form discrete and well-supported monophyletic groups derived from a common ancestral sequence that predates the divergence of dicots and monocots. In contrast, other sequences included in classes I* and II, lacking one or both types of auxiliary domains, were nested within class I sequences, indicating that they have a polyphyletic origin. According to phylogenetic analyses and the calculation of evolutionary rates, these chitinases probably arose from different class I lineages by relatively recent deletion events. The occurrence of such evolutionary trends in cultivated plants and their potential involvement in host-pathogen interactions are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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