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PNAS 105 (41): 15950-15955

Copyright © 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences.


Eukaryotic-like protein kinases in the prokaryotes and the myxobacterial kinome

J. Pérez{dagger}, A. Castañeda-García{dagger}, H. Jenke-Kodama{ddagger}, R. Müller§, and J. Muñoz-Dorado{dagger}

{dagger}Departamento de Microbiología, Instituto de Biotecnología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Avda. Fuentenueva s/n, E-18071 Granada, Spain; {ddagger}Department of Molecular Ecology, Institute of Biology, 10115 Berlin, Germany; and §Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Saarland University, D-66041 Saarbrücken, Germany

Communicated by A. Dale Kaiser, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, July 18, 2008

Received for publication March 13, 2008.

Abstract: Ser/Thr/Tyr kinases, which together comprise a major class of regulatory proteins in eukaryotes, were not believed to play an important role in prokaryotes until recently. However, our analysis of 626 prokaryotic genomes reveals that eukaryotic-like protein kinases (ELKs) are found in nearly two-thirds of the sequenced strains. We have identified 2697 ELKs, most of which are encoded by multicellular strains of the phyla Proteobacteria (Myxococcales), Actinobacteria, Cyanobacteria, and Chloroflexi, and 2 Acidobacteria and 1 Planctomycetes. Astonishingly, 7 myxobacterial strains together encode 892 ELKs, with 4 of the strains exhibiting a genomic ELK density similar to that observed in eukaryotes. Most myxobacterial ELKs show a modular organization in which the kinase domain is located at the N terminus. The C-terminal portion of the ELKs is highly diverse and often contains sequences with similarity to characterized domains, most of them involved in signaling mechanisms or in protein–protein interactions. However, many of these architectures are unique to the myxobacteria, an observation that suggests that this group exploits sophisticated and novel signal transduction systems. Phylogenetic reconstruction using the kinase domains revealed many orthologous sequence pairs and a huge number of gene duplications that probably occurred after speciation. Furthermore, studies of the microsynteny in the ELK-encoding regions reveal only low levels of synteny among Myxococcus xanthus, Plesiocystis pacifica, and Sorangium cellulosum. However, extensive similarities between M. xanthus, Stigmatella aurantiaca, and 3 Anaeromyxobacter strains were observed, indicating that they share regulatory pathways involving various ELKs.

Key Words: AnaeromyxobacterMyxococcusPlesiocystisSorangiumStigmatella

Author contributions: J.P. and J.M.-D. designed research; J.P. performed research; J.P., A.C.-G., H.J.-K., R.M., and J.M.-D. analyzed data; and J.P., R.M., and J.M.-D. wrote the paper.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

This article contains supporting information online at

To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jdorado{at}

© 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA

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