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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 May 26;95(11):6239-44.

Genomic evidence for two functionally distinct gene classes.

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Molecular Biology Institute and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Analyses of complete genomes indicate that a massive prokaryotic gene transfer (or transfers) preceded the formation of the eukaryotic cell. In comparisons of the entire set of Methanococcus jannaschii genes with their orthologs from Escherichia coli, Synechocystis 6803, and the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, it is shown that prokaryotic genomes consist of two different groups of genes. The deeper, diverging informational lineage codes for genes which function in translation, transcription, and replication, and also includes GTPases, vacuolar ATPase homologs, and most tRNA synthetases. The more recently diverging operational lineage codes for amino acid synthesis, the biosynthesis of cofactors, the cell envelope, energy metabolism, intermediary metabolism, fatty acid and phospholipid biosynthesis, nucleotide biosynthesis, and regulatory functions. In eukaryotes, the informational genes are most closely related to those of Methanococcus, whereas the majority of operational genes are most closely related to those of Escherichia, but some are closest to Methanococcus or to Synechocystis.

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