Dating back to the last universal common ancestor (LUCA), the P-loop NTPases and Rossmanns now comprise the most ubiquitous and diverse enzyme lineages. Intriguing similarities in their overall architecture and phosphate binding motifs suggest common ancestry; however, due to a lack of sequence identity and some fundamental structural differences, these families are considered independent emergences. To address this longstanding dichotomy, we systematically searched for 'bridge proteins' with structure and sequence elements shared by both lineages. We detected homologous segments that span the first βαβ segment of both lineages and include two key functional motifs: (i) a phosphate binding loop – the 'Walker A' motif of P-loop NTPases or the Rossmann equivalent, both residing at the N-terminus of α1; and (ii) an Asp at the tip of β2. The latter comprises the 'Walker B' aspartate that chelates the catalytic metal in P-loop NTPases, or the canonical Rossmann β2-Asp that binds the cofactor's ribose moiety. Tubulin, a Rossmann GTPase, demonstrates the potential of the β2-Asp to take either one of these two roles. We conclude that common P-loops/Rossmann ancestry is plausible, although convergence cannot be completely ruled out. Regardless, both lineages most likely emerged from a polypeptide comprising a βαβ segment carrying the above two functional motifs, a segment that comprises the core of both enzyme families to this very day.
All data analysed in this manuscript are from publicly available archives such as the Protein Databank.
- Rachel Kolodny
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Charlotte M Deane, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
© 2020, Longo et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Co-functional proteins tend to have rates of evolution that covary over time. This correlation between evolutionary rates can be measured over the branches of a phylogenetic tree through methods such as evolutionary rate covariation (ERC), and then used to construct gene networks by the identification of proteins with functional interactions. The cause of this correlation has been hypothesized to result from both compensatory coevolution at physical interfaces and nonphysical forces such as shared changes in selective pressure. This study explores whether coevolution due to compensatory mutations has a measurable effect on the ERC signal. We examined the difference in ERC signal between physically interacting protein domains within complexes compared to domains of the same proteins that do not physically interact. We found no generalizable relationship between physical interaction and high ERC, although a few complexes ranked physical interactions higher than nonphysical interactions. Therefore, we conclude that coevolution due to physical interaction is weak, but present in the signal captured by ERC, and we hypothesize that the stronger signal instead comes from selective pressures on the protein as a whole and maintenance of the general function.
Synthetic autotrophy is a promising avenue to sustainable bioproduction from CO2. Here, we use iterative laboratory evolution to generate several distinct autotrophic strains. Utilising this genetic diversity, we identify that just three mutations are sufficient for Escherichia coli to grow autotrophically, when introduced alongside non-native energy (formate dehydrogenase) and carbon-fixing (RuBisCO, phosphoribulokinase, carbonic anhydrase) modules. The mutated genes are involved in glycolysis (pgi), central-carbon regulation (crp), and RNA transcription (rpoB). The pgi mutation reduces the enzyme’s activity, thereby stabilising the carbon-fixing cycle by capping a major branching flux. For the other two mutations, we observe down-regulation of several metabolic pathways and increased expression of native genes associated with the carbon-fixing module (rpiB) and the energy module (fdoGH), as well as an increased ratio of NADH/NAD+ - the cycle’s electron-donor. This study demonstrates the malleability of metabolism and its capacity to switch trophic modes using only a small number of genetic changes and could facilitate transforming other heterotrophic organisms into autotrophs.