Washington : If you think you don’t have much in common with slime, then you might want to mull over it as a new study has revealed that without ancestral gene, life on Earth might not have evolved beyond slime.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia have identified a common ancestral gene that enabled the evolution of advanced life over a billion years ago.
The gene, found in all complex organisms, including plants and animals, encodes for a large group of enzymes known as protein kinases that enabled cells to be larger and to rapidly transfer information from one part to another.
Steven Pelech said that if the duplications and subsequent mutations of this gene during evolution didn’t happen, then life would be completely different today. The most advanced life on our planet would probably still be bacterial slime.
“From sequencing the genomes of humans, we knew that about 500 genes for different protein kinases all had similar blueprints,” said Pelech, adding “Our new research revealed that the gene probably originated from bacteria for facilitating the synthesis of proteins and then mutated to acquire completely new functions.”
The same gene that gave rise to protein kinases also led to the formation of a group of enzymes known as choline and ethanolamine kinases. The choline kinase enzyme is critical for the production of phosphatidylcholine, a major component of the membranes that wrap around eukaryotic cells and their organelles, but is missing from bacteria.
Pelech says that the approach they used to study the evolution of this gene could be adapted to study other important protein families and could eventually lead to the creation of a protein version of the evolutionary tree of life.
The study is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. (ANI)