Here is another eukaryotic gene family. Recent discovery.
In eukaryotes, the assembly and elongation of unbranched actin filaments is controlled by formins, which are long, multidomain proteins. These proteins are important for dynamic cellular processes such as determination of cell shape, cell division, and cellular interaction. Yet, no comprehensive study has been done about the origins and evolution of this gene family. We therefore performed extensive phylogenetic and motif analyses of the formin genes by examining 597 prokaryotic and 53 eukaryotic genomes. Additionally, we used three-dimensional protein structure data in an effort to uncover distantly related sequences. Our results suggest that the formin homology 2 (FH2) domain, which promotes the formation of actin filaments, is a eukaryotic innovation and apparently originated only once in eukaryotic evolution. Despite the high degree of FH2 domain sequence divergence, the FH2 domains of most eukaryotic formins are predicted to assume the same fold and thus have similar functions. The formin genes have experienced multiple taxon-specific duplications and followed the birth-and-death model of evolution. Additionally, the formin genes experienced taxonspecific genomic rearrangements that led to the acquisition of unrelated protein domains. The evolutionary diversification of formin genes apparently increased the number of formin’s interacting molecules and consequently contributed to the development of a complex and precise actin assembly mechanism. The diversity of formin types is probably related to the range of actin-based cellular processes that different cells or organisms require. Our results indicate the importance of gene duplication and domain acquisition in the evolution of the eukaryotic cell and offer insights into how a complex system, such as the cytoskeleton, evolved.
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Formins and Microtubules
F. Bartolini and G. G. Gundersen
Formins have recently been recognized as prominent regulators of the microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton where they modulate the dynamics of selected MTs in interphase and mitosis. The association of formins with the MT cytoskeleton and their action on MT dynamics are relatively unexplored areas, yet growing evidence supports a direct role in their regulation of MT stability independent of their activity on actin. Formins regulate MT stability alone or in combination with accessory MT binding proteins that have previously been implicated in the stabilization of MTs downstream of polarity cues. As actin and MT arrays are typically remodeled downstream of signaling pathways that orchestrate cell shape and division, formins are emerging as excellent candidates for coordinating the responses of the cytoskeletal in diverse regulated and homeostatic processes.