The iron-sulfur cluster assembly genes iscS and iscU of Entamoeba histolytica were acquired by horizontal gene transfer
van der Giezen, M
BMC Evolutionary Biology
© van der Giezen et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2004. This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original URL.
BACKGROUND: Iron-sulfur (FeS) proteins are present in all living organisms and play important roles in electron transport and metalloenzyme catalysis. The maturation of FeS proteins in eukaryotes is an essential function of mitochondria, but little is known about this process in amitochondriate eukaryotes. Here we report on the identification and analysis of two genes encoding critical FeS cluster (Isc) biosynthetic proteins from the amitochondriate human pathogen Entamoeba histolytica. RESULTS: E. histolytica IscU and IscS were found to contain all features considered essential for their biological activity, including amino acid residues involved in substrate and/or co-factor binding. The IscU protein differs significantly from other eukaryotic homologs and resembles the long type isoforms encountered in some bacteria. Phylogenetic analyses of E. histolytica IscS and IscU showed a close relationship with homologs from Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni, to the exclusion of mitochondrial isoforms. CONCLUSIONS: The bacterial-type FeS cluster assembly genes of E. histolytica suggest their lateral acquisition from epsilon proteobacteria. This is a clear example of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from eubacteria to unicellular eukaryotic organisms, a phenomenon known to contribute significantly to the evolution of eukaryotic genomes.
We wish to thank Drs Salvador Carranza (University of Barcelona, Spain) and David S. Horner (University of Milan, Italy) for advice and help with the phylogenetic analyses and Dr. Hermie Harmsen (University of Groningen, The Netherlands) for compiling a list of gut bacteria currently being sequenced. Preliminary sequence data for E. histolytica is deposited regularly into the GSS division of GenBank. The Sequencing effort is part of the International E. histolytica Genome Sequencing Project and is supported by an award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. SC was supported by an undergraduate research bursary from the Nuffield Foundation (URB/00970/G). This work was supported by a grant from the BBSRC (111/C13820) to JT.
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Vol. 4, article 7
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