Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 257–266 | Cite as

Phylogenetic and Biochemical Studies Reveal a Potential Evolutionary Origin of Small Heat Shock Proteins of Animals from Bacterial Class A

  • Xinmiao Fu
  • Wangwang Jiao
  • Zengyi Chang


Small heat shock proteins (sHSPs), as one subclass of molecular chaperones, are important for cells to protect proteins under stress conditions. Unlike the large HSPs (represented by Hsp60 and Hsp70), sHSPs are highly divergent in both primary sequences and oligomeric status, with their evolutionary relationships being unresolved. Here the phylogenetic analysis of a representative 51 sHSPs (covering the six subfamilies: bacterial class A, bacterial class B, archae, fungi, plant, and animal) reveals a close relationship between bacterial class A and animal sHSPs which form an outgroup. Accumulating data indicate that the oligomers from bacterial class A and animal sHSPs appear to exhibit polydispersity, while those from the rest exhibit monodispersity. Together, the close evolutionary relationship and the similarity in oligomeric polydispersity between bacterial class A and animal sHSPs not only suggest a potential evolutionary origin of the latter from the former, but also imply that their oligomeric polydispersity is somehow a property determined by their primary sequences.


Chaperone Small heat shock protein Oligomer Polydisperse Monodisperse 



This work was funded by the National Key Basic Research Foundation of China (Grant G1999075607) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 30270289). The authors wish to thank Dr. Bernard K. K. Fung (Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, School of Medicine, Los Angeles) for his kind gift of vector pET20b+ carrying the cDNA gene of rat αA-crystallin, Dr. Sung-Hou Kim (Physical Biosciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Department of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley) for his kind gift of vector pET21a carrying the gene of M. jannaschii Hsp16.5, and Dr. Elizabeth Vierling (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, University of Arizona, Tucson) for his kind gift of vector PJC20 carrying the gene of wheat Hsp16.9. The authors are also grateful for the enlightening discussions and help provided by members of Dr. Chang’s laboratory (especially Mr. Zhang Xuefeng).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Protein Engineering and Plant Genetic EngineeringPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Life SciencePeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Biological Sciences and BiotechnologyTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina

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