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Open Access Research article

Evolutionary divergence of chloroplast FAD synthetase proteins

Inmaculada Yruela12*, Sonia Arilla-Luna23, Milagros Medina23 and Bruno Contreras-Moreira124

Author Affiliations

1 Estación Experimental de Aula Dei, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Avda. Montañana, 1005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain

2 Institute of Biocomputation and Physics of Complex Systems (BIFI), Universidad de Zaragoza, Mariano Esquillor, Edificio I + D, 50018 Zaragoza, Spain

3 Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular y Celular, Facultad de Ciencias, C/ Pedro Cerbuna 12, 5009 Zaragoza, Spain

4 Fundación ARAID, Zaragoza, Spain

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010, 10:311  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-311

Published: 18 October 2010

Abstract

Background

Flavin adenine dinucleotide synthetases (FADSs) - a group of bifunctional enzymes that carry out the dual functions of riboflavin phosphorylation to produce flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and its subsequent adenylation to generate FAD in most prokaryotes - were studied in plants in terms of sequence, structure and evolutionary history.

Results

Using a variety of bioinformatics methods we have found that FADS enzymes localized to the chloroplasts, which we term as plant-like FADS proteins, are distributed across a variety of green plant lineages and constitute a divergent protein family clearly of cyanobacterial origin. The C-terminal module of these enzymes does not contain the typical riboflavin kinase active site sequence, while the N-terminal module is broadly conserved. These results agree with a previous work reported by Sandoval et al. in 2008. Furthermore, our observations and preliminary experimental results indicate that the C-terminus of plant-like FADS proteins may contain a catalytic activity, but different to that of their prokaryotic counterparts. In fact, homology models predict that plant-specific conserved residues constitute a distinct active site in the C-terminus.

Conclusions

A structure-based sequence alignment and an in-depth evolutionary survey of FADS proteins, thought to be crucial in plant metabolism, are reported, which will be essential for the correct annotation of plant genomes and further structural and functional studies. This work is a contribution to our understanding of the evolutionary history of plant-like FADS enzymes, which constitute a new family of FADS proteins whose C-terminal module might be involved in a distinct catalytic activity.