Eukaryotic genes of archaebacterial origin are more important than the more numerous eubacterial genes, irrespective of function


The traditional tree of life shows eukaryotes as a distinct lineage of living things, but many studies have suggested that the first eukaryotic cells were chimeric, descended from both Eubacteria (through the mitochondrion) and Archaebacteria. Eukaryote nuclei thus contain genes of both eubacterial and archaebacterial origins, and these genes have different functions within eukaryotic cells. Here we report that archaebacterium-derived genes are significantly more likely to be essential to yeast viability, are more highly expressed, and are significantly more highly connected and more central in the yeast protein interaction network. These findings hold irrespective of whether the genes have an informational or operational function, so that many features of eukaryotic genes with prokaryotic homologs can be explained by their origin, rather than their function. Taken together, our results show that genes of archaebacterial origin are in some senses more important to yeast metabolism than genes of eubacterial origin. This importance reflects these genes' origin as the ancestral nuclear component of the eukaryotic genome.

In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 107:17252–17255
James Cotton
James Cotton
Senior Staff Scientist

My research interests are in the genomics, and particularly population genomics of parasites, particularly those that cause neglected tropical diseases