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Ordering events of biochemical evolution

By Cyril - Posted on 17 April 2014

TitleOrdering events of biochemical evolution
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsCunchillos C, Lecointre G
KeywordsBiochemical evolution
AbstractMetabolic pathways exhibit structures resulting from an evolutionary process. Pathways have been inherited through time with modification, from the earliest periods of life. It is possible to compare the structure of pathways as done in comparative anatomy, i.e. for inferring ancestral pathways or parts of it (ancestral enzymatic functions), using standard phylogenetic reconstruction. Thus a phylogenetic tree of pathways provides a relative ordering of the rise of enzymatic functions. It even becomes possible to order the birth of each complete pathway in time. This particular "DNA-free" conceptual approach to evolutionary biochemistry is reviewed, gathering all the justifications given for it. Then, the method of assigning a given pathway to a time span of biochemical development is revisited. The previous method used an implicit "clock" of metabolic development that is difficult to justify. We develop a new clock-free approach, using functional biochemical arguments. Results of the two methods are not significantly different; our method is just more precise. This suggests that the clock assumed in the first method does not provoke any important artefact in describing the development of biochemical evolution. It is just unnecessary to postulate it. As a result, most of the amino acid metabolic pathways develop forwards, confirming former models of amino acid catabolism evolution, but not those for amino acid anabolism. The order of appearance of sectors of universal cellular metabolism is: (1) amino acid catabolism, (2) amino acid anabolism and closure of the urea cycle, (3) glycolysis and glycogenesis, (4) closure of the pentose-phosphate cycle, (5) closure of the Krebs cycle and fatty acids metabolism, (6) closure of the Calvin cycle.
DOIDOI: 10.1016/j.biochi.2006.12.007