In Silico Survey of the Mitochondrial Protein Uptake and Maturation Systems in the Brown Alga Ectocarpus siliculosus

The acquisition of mitochondria was a key event in eukaryote evolution. The aim of this study was to identify homologues of the components of the mitochondrial protein import machinery in the brown alga Ectocarpus and to use this information to investigate the evolutionary history of this fundamental cellular process. Detailed searches were carried out both for components of the protein import system and for related peptidases. Comparative and phylogenetic analyses were used to investigate the evolution of mitochondrial proteins during eukaryote diversification. Key observations include phylogenetic evidence for very ancient origins for many protein import components (Tim21, Tim50, for example) and indications of differences between the outer membrane receptors that recognize the mitochondrial targeting signals, suggesting replacement, rearrangement and/or emergence of new components across the major eukaryotic lineages. Overall, the mitochondrial protein import components analysed in this study confirmed a high level of conservation during evolution, indicating that most are derived from very ancient, ancestral proteins. Several of the protein import components identified in Ectocarpus, such as Tim21, Tim50 and metaxin, have also been found in other stramenopiles and this study suggests an early origin during the evolution of the eukaryotes.

Delage, L., Leblanc, C., Nyvall Collén, P., Gschloessl, B., Oudot, M-P., Sterck, L., Poulain, J., Aury, J., Cock, M. (2011) In Silico Survey of the Mitochondrial Protein Uptake and Maturation Systems in the Brown Alga Ectocarpus siliculosus. PLoS One 6(5):e19540.

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