Open Access Research article

The phylogenomic analysis of the anaphase promoting complex and its targets points to complex and modern-like control of the cell cycle in the last common ancestor of eukaryotes

Laura Eme1, Aurélie Trilles1, David Moreira2 and Céline Brochier-Armanet13*

Author Affiliations

1 Aix-Marseille Université, Laboratoire de Chimie Bactérienne - UPR CNRS 9043, Marseille, France

2 Unité d'Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution - UMR CNRS 8079, Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France

3 Present Address: Université de Lyon; Université Lyon 1; CNRS; UMR5558, Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, 43 boulevard du 11 novembre 1918, Villeurbanne, France

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:265  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-265

Published: 23 September 2011



The Anaphase Promoting Complex or Cyclosome (APC/C) is the largest member of the ubiquitin ligase [E3] family. It plays a crucial role in the control of the cell cycle and cell proliferation by mediating the proteolysis of key components by the proteasome. APC/C is made of a dozen subunits that assemble into a large complex of ~1.5 MDa, which interacts with various cofactors and targets.


Using comparative genomic and phylogenetic approaches, we showed that 24 out of 37 known APC/C subunits, adaptors/co-activators and main targets, were already present in the Last Eukaryotic Common Ancestor (LECA) and were well conserved to a few exceptions in all present-day eukaryotic lineages. The phylogenetic analysis of the 24 components inferred to be present in LECA showed that they contain a reliable phylogenetic signal to reconstruct the phylogeny of the domain Eucarya.


Taken together our analyses indicated that LECA had a complex and highly controlled modern-like cell cycle. Moreover, we showed that, despite what is generally assumed, proteins involved in housekeeping cellular functions may be a good complement to informational genes to study the phylogeny of eukaryotes.

Anaphase Promoting Complex; Cohesin Complex; Phylogeny; Eukaryotes; LECA; Evolution