Horizontal gene transfer of plant-specific leucine-rich repeats between plants and bacteria


Leucine rich repeats (LRRs) are present in over 14,000 proteins that have been identified in viruses, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. Two to sixty-two LRRs occur in tandem forming an overall arc shaped domain. There are eight classes of LRRs. Plant specific LRRs (class: PS-LRR) had previously been recognized in only plant proteins. However, we find that PS-LRRs are also present in proteins from bacteria. We investigated the origin of bacterial PS-LRR domains. PSLRR proteins are widely distributed in most plants; they are found in only a few bacterial species. There are no PS-LRR proteins from archaea. Bacterial PS-LRRs in twenty proteins from eleven bacterial species (in the three phyla: Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, and Bacteroidetes) are significantly more similar to the PS-LRR class than to the other seven classes of LRR proteins. Not only amino acid sequences but also nucleotide sequences of the bacterial PS-LRR domains show highly significant similarity with those of many plant proteins. The program, EGID (Ensemble algorithm for Genomic Island Detection), predicts that Synechococcus sp. CYA_ 1022 came from another organism. Four bacterial PS-LRR proteins contain AhpC-TSA, IgA peptidase M64, the immunoglobulin domain, the Calx-b domain, and the He_PIG domain; these domains show no similarity with any eukaryotic (plant) proteins, in contrast to the similarities of their respective PS-LRRs. The present results indicate that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of genes/gene fragments encoding PS-LRR domains occurred between bacteria and plants, and HGT among the eleven bacterial species, of the three phyla, as opposed to descent from a common ancestor. There is the possibility of the occurrence of one HGT event from plant to bacteria. A series of HGTs might then have occurred recently and rapidly among these eleven species of bacteria.

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Miyashita, H. , Kuroki, Y. , Kretsinger, R. and Matsushima, N. (2013) Horizontal gene transfer of plant-specific leucine-rich repeats between plants and bacteria. Natural Science, 5, 580-598. doi: 10.4236/ns.2013.55074.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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