The Evolution of Tetraspanins Through a Phylogenetic Lens
The tetraspanin superfamily of proteins provides an excellent system for examining many important evolutionary phenomena at the level of gene and protein sequences. Because dozens of eukaryotic organisms now have their full genomes sequenced, tetraspanins from these genomes can be compared and placed into a phylogenetic context. The whole genome information allows for researchers to trace with great precision the evolutionary events that have molded the broad array of tetraspanins found in eukaryotic genomes. We first demonstrate that phylogenetic analysis of tetraspanins from the fully sequenced genomes of an exemplar set of eukaryotes can give a fairly complete picture of the relationships of the families and subfamilies of tetraspanins. We can use the phylogenetic analysis of these tetraspanins to classify the various families and subfamilies of tetraspanins and use the sequence information as diagnostics for identifying novel tetraspanins. By using a phylogenetic perspective we also examine several important evolutionary processes in the tetraspanins such as intron evolution and the evolution of small protein motifs. We also describe a website for researchers who are interested in tetraspanin evolution, classification, identification and information called TSPAN4.web (http://research.amnh.org/users/desalle/data/tspan/).
KeywordsIntron Position Phylogenetic Approach Intron Gain Cysteine Motif Detailed Phylogenetic Analysis
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