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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2017 Sep;114:1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.05.023. Epub 2017 May 27.

Phylogenomic analysis of integral diiron membrane histidine motif-containing enzymes in ciliates provides insights into their function and evolutionary relationships.

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1
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Instituto de Nanobiotecnología (NANOBIOTEC), Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Junín 956 (C1113AAD), Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Instituto de Nanobiotecnología (NANOBIOTEC), Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Junín 956 (C1113AAD), Buenos Aires, Argentina. Electronic address: anusblat@ffyb.uba.ar.

Abstract

The Integral Membrane Histidine Motif-containing Enzymes (IMHME) are a class of binuclear non-heme iron proteins widely distributed among prokaryotes and eukaryotes. They are characterized by a conserved tripartite motif consisting of eight to ten histidine residues. Their known function is the activation of the dioxygen moiety to serve as efficient catalysts for reactions of hydroxylation, desaturation or reduction. To date most studies on IMHME were carried out in metazoan, phototrophic or parasitic organisms, whereas genome-wide analysis in heterotrophic free living protozoa, such as the Ciliophora phylum, has not been undertaken. In the seven fully sequenced genomes available we retrieved 118 putative sequences of the IMHME type, albeit with large differences in number among the ciliates: 11 sequences in Euplotes octocarinatus, 7 in Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, 13 in Oxytricha trifallax, 18 in Stylonychia lemnae, 25 in Tetrahymena thermophila, 31 in Paramecium tetraurelia and 13 in Pseudocohnilembus persalinus. The pool of putative sequences was classified in 16 orthologous groups from which 11 were related to fatty acid desaturase (FAD) and 5 to the fatty acid hydroxylase (FAH) superfamilies. Noteworthy, a large diversity on the number and type of FAD / FAH proteins were found among the ciliates, a feature that, in principle, may be attributed to peculiarities of the evolutionary process, such as gene expansion and reduction, but also to horizontal gene transfer, as we demonstrate in this work. We identified twelve putative enzymatic activities, from which four were newly assigned activities: sphingolipid Δ4-desaturase, ω3/Δ15 fatty acid desaturase, a large group of alkane 1-monooxygenases, and acylamide-delta-3(E)-desaturase, although unequivocal allocation would require additional experiments. We also combined the phylogenetics analysis with lipids analysis, thereby allowing the detection of two enzymatic activities not previously reported: a C-5 sterol desaturase in P. tetraurelia and a delta-9 fatty acid desaturase in Cohnilembus reniformis. The analysis revealed a significant lower number of FAD's sequences in the spirotrichea ciliates than in the oligohymenophorea, emphasizing the importance of fatty acids trophic transfer among aquatic organisms as a source of variation in metabolic activity, individual and population growth rates, and reproduction.

KEYWORDS:

Ciliates; Fatty acid desaturase superfamily; Fatty acid hydroxylase superfamily; Histidine motifs; Horizontal gene transfer; Phylogenetics

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