Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Comparative genomics of transcription factors and chromatin proteins in parasitic protists and other eukaryotes

Int J Parasitol. 2007 Sep 15; [Epub ahead of print]

Comparative genomics of transcription factors and chromatin proteins in parasitic protists and other eukaryotes

Iyer LM, Anantharaman V, Wolf MY, Aravind L

National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA.

Comparative genomics of parasitic protists and their free-living relatives are profoundly impacting our understanding of the regulatory systems involved in transcription and chromatin dynamics. While some parts of these systems are highly conserved, other parts are rapidly evolving, thereby providing the molecular basis for the variety in the regulatory adaptations of eukaryotes. The gross number of specific transcription factors and chromatin proteins are positively correlated with proteome size in eukaryotes. However, the individual types of specific transcription factors show an enormous variety across different eukaryotic lineages. The dominant families of specific transcription factors even differ between sister lineages, and have been shaped by gene loss and lineage-specific expansions. Recognition of this principle has helped in identifying the hitherto unknown, major specific transcription factors of several parasites, such as apicomplexans, Entamoeba histolytica, Trichomonas vaginalis, Phytophthora and ciliates. Comparative analysis of predicted chromatin proteins from protists allows reconstruction of the early evolutionary history of histone and DNA modification, nucleosome assembly and chromatin-remodeling systems. Many key catalytic, peptide-binding and DNA-binding domains in these systems ultimately had bacterial precursors, but were put together into distinctive regulatory complexes that are unique to the eukaryotes. In the case of histone methylases, histone demethylases and SWI2/SNF2 ATPases, proliferation of paralogous families followed by acquisition of novel domain architectures, seem to have played a major role in producing a diverse set of enzymes that create and respond to an epigenetic code of modified histones. The diversification of histone acetylases and DNA methylases appears to have proceeded via repeated emergence of new versions, most probably via transfers from bacteria to different eukaryotic lineages, again resulting in lineage-specific diversity in epigenetic signals. Even though the key histone modifications are universal to eukaryotes, domain architectures of proteins binding post-translationally modified-histones vary considerably across eukaryotes. This indicates that the histone code might be "interpreted" differently from model organisms in parasitic protists and their relatives. The complexity of domain architectures of chromatin proteins appears to have increased during eukaryotic evolution. Thus, Trichomonas, Giardia, Naegleria and kinetoplastids have relatively simple domain architectures, whereas apicomplexans and oomycetes have more complex architectures. RNA-dependent post-transcriptional silencing systems, which interact with chromatin-level regulatory systems, show considerable variability across parasitic protists, with complete loss in many apicomplexans and partial loss in Trichomonas vaginalis. This evolutionary synthesis offers a robust scaffold for future investigation of transcription and chromatin structure in parasitic protists.

PMID: 17949725 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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