, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 54-64
Date: 13 Jun 2009

RBR Ubiquitin Ligases: Diversification and Streamlining in Animal Lineages

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The patterns of emergence and disappearance in animal species of genes encoding RBR ubiquitin ligases are described. RBR genes can be classified into subfamilies (Parkin, Ariadne, Dorfin, ARA54, etc.) according to sequence and structural data. Here, I show that most animal-specific RBR subfamilies emerged early in animal evolution, and that ancient animals, before the cnidarian/bilaterian split, had a set of RBR genes, which was as complex as the one currently found in mammals. However, some lineages (nematodes, dipteran insects) have recently suffered multiple losses, leading to a highly simplified set of RBR genes. Genes of a particular RBR subfamily, characterized by containing a helicase domain and so far found only in plants, are present also in some animal species. The meaning of these patterns of diversification and streamlining are discussed at the light of functional data. Extreme evolutionary conservation may be related to gene products having housekeeping functions.