Lateral transfer of tetrahymanol-synthesizing genes has allowed multiple diverse eukaryote lineages to independently adapt to environments without oxygen

Kiyotaka Takishita, Yoshito Chikaraishi, Michelle M. Leger, Eunsoo Kim, Akinori Yabuki, Naohiko Ohkouchi, Andrew J. Roger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sterols are key components of eukaryotic cellular membranes that are synthesized by multi-enzyme pathways that require molecular oxygen. Because prokaryotes fundamentally lack sterols, it is unclear how the vast diversity of bacterivorous eukaryotes that inhabit hypoxic environments obtain, or synthesize, sterols. Here we show that tetrahymanol, a triterpenoid that does not require molecular oxygen for its biosynthesis, likely functions as a surrogate of sterol in eukaryotes inhabiting oxygen-poor environments. Genes encoding the tetrahymanol synthesizing enzyme squalene-tetrahymanol cyclase were found from several phylogenetically diverged eukaryotes that live in oxygen-poor environments and appear to have been laterally transferred among such eukaryotes.Reviewers: This article was reviewed by Eric Bapteste and Eugene Koonin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalBiology Direct
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2012

Keywords

  • Eukaryotes
  • Lateral gene transfer
  • Phagocytosis
  • Sterols
  • Tetrahymanol

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