Coral genome reveals cysteine ​​surprise

While producing a high-quality genome of Acropora loripes (pictured above), marine scientists at KAUST have discovered for the first time that most animals have an alternative cysteine ​​synthesis pathway. Credit: 2022 KAUST; Jose Montalvo Bruno

Model animals, such as mice and fruit flies, have provided scientists with powerful insights into how cellular biology works. However, model animals are really only evidence, and it can be dangerous to generalize results across animals from studying a select group of organisms.

Cysteine ​​is an important amino acid that is used in many forms biological processes, including metabolism and protein synthesis. in animals, cysteine The biosynthesis was thought to be generated exclusively via the sulfur conversion pathway, with the enzyme cystathionine synthase (CBS) as a major player. However, previous research indicated that the CBS gene was lost in corals of the genus Acropora. The suggestion was that these corals could not produce cysteine ​​on their own and had to rely on symbiotic relationships with the algae to receive it.

“We were not looking for cysteine ​​biosynthesis in Acropora,” says Octavio Salazar, who worked on the center’s partnership fund project with principal investigator Manuel Aranda of KAUST and colleagues from the Australian Institute of Oceanography. “We were producing high-quality genomes of Acropora loripes as a valuable genetic resource for future research.”

With the high-resolution genome complete, the team decided to see if they could confirm that the CBS gene was indeed missing. Salazar couldn’t find any sign of the gene where it was supposed to be, but he and his colleagues weren’t convinced that coral had no other way to synthesize cysteine.

Credit: Octavio Salazar

“I started searching the genome for genes Encoding enzymes that looked similar to those in other known cysteine ​​biosynthesis pathways, such as those in fungi and bacteria, Salazar says. “I was quite surprised to find two enzymes in the coral that resembled an alternative cysteine ​​biosynthesis pathway recently identified in fungi.”

To confirm that the enzymes encoded by these coral genes could make cysteine ​​in vivo, the researchers used yeast mutants with inability to synthesize cysteine ​​and gave them the corresponding Acropora genes. Mutations started to produce cysteine.

Moreover, the KAUST team found that both genes were present in the genomes of all animal phyla except for vertebrates, arthropods, and nematodes — the three exact groups from which the most common animal models come.

“This study demonstrates the value of keeping an open mind when it comes to studying living things,” says Aranda. “Sometimes knowledge can put you in a box; if you analyze data using only what you think you know, you might miss something. genome It will be of great value to future studies and who knows, it could reveal other unexpected details along the way.”

The study appears in science progress.

Comparing the genomes of two coral species reveals unexpected genetic diversity

more information:
Octavio R. Salazar et al, Acropora loripes genome reveals an alternative cysteine ​​biosynthesis pathway in animals, science progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abq0304.

the quote: Coral Genome Reveals Surprising Cysteine ​​(2022, September 23) Retrieved September 23, 2022 from

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