Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 228–235 | Cite as

Molecular Evidence for the Ancient Origin of the Ribosomal Protection Protein That Mediates Tetracycline Resistance in Bacteria

  • Takeshi Kobayashi
  • Lisa NonakaEmail author
  • Fumito Maruyama
  • Satoru Suzuki


The ribosomal protection proteins (RPPs) mediate the resistance to tetracycline (TC) in Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The RPPs display sequence similarity to translation elongation factors, EF-G/EF-2 and EF-Tu/EF-1α. To determine the evolutionary origin of the RPPs, we constructed a composite phylogenetic tree of the RPPs, EF-G/EF-2 and EF-Tu/EF-1α. This tree includes two universal trees for the EF-G/EF-2 and EF-Tu/EF-1α, which form clusters corresponding to the respective two groups of proteins from three superkingdoms. The cluster of RPPs was placed at a point between the EF-G/EF-2 and EF-Tu/EF-1α clusters. The branch length (substitutions/site) between the node for the RPP cluster and the primary divergence of the RPPs was statistically shorter than that between the node for this cluster and the primary divergence in the EF-G/EF-2 cluster. This indicates that the RPPs derived through duplication and divergence of the ancient GTPase before the divergence of the three superkingdoms. Furthermore, this suggests the RPPs’ extant function occurred before the streptomycetes that include the TC-producing strains. Therefore, the RPPs evolved independent of the presence of TCs and serve a function other than antibiotic resistance. The RPPs may provide ribosomal protection against other chemical substances in the environment.


Bacteria Antibiotic Tetracycline Resistance Ribosomal protection protein Evolution Origin EF-G/EF-2 EF-Tu/EF-1α Composite phylogenetic tree 



We thank Ms. Annie Marlow for proofreading the manuscript. This work was supported by the 21st Century COE Program from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT); by a Sasagawa Scientific Research Grant from The Japan Science Society; and by the Mitsubishi Foundation from the Mitsubishi Group.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takeshi Kobayashi
    • 1
  • Lisa Nonaka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Fumito Maruyama
    • 2
  • Satoru Suzuki
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Marine Environmental Studies (CMES)Ehime UniversityEhimeJapan
  2. 2.The Institute of Medical ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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