Recombinase enzymes promote DNA repair by homologous recombination. The genes that encode them are ancestral to life, occurring in all known dominions: viruses, Eubacteria, Archaea and Eukaryota. Bacterial recombinases are also present in viruses and eukaryotic groups (supergroups), presumably via ancestral events of lateral gene transfer. The eukaryotic recA genes have two distinct origins (mitochondrial and plastidial), whose acquisition by eukaryotes was possible via primary (bacteria–eukaryote) and/or secondary (eukaryote–eukaryote) endosymbiotic gene transfers (EGTs). Here we present a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the recA genealogy, with substantially increased taxonomic sampling in the bacteria, viruses, eukaryotes and a special focus on the key eukaryotic supergroup Amoebozoa, earlier represented only by Dictyostelium. We demonstrate that several major eukaryotic lineages have lost the bacterial recombinases (including Opisthokonta and Excavata), whereas others have retained them (Amoebozoa, Archaeplastida and the SAR-supergroups). When absent, the bacterial recA homologues may have been lost entirely (secondary loss of canonical mitochondria) or replaced by other eukaryotic recombinases. RecA proteins have a transit peptide for organellar import, where they act. The reconstruction of the RecA phylogeny with its EGT events presented here retells the intertwined evolutionary history of eukaryotes and bacteria, while further illuminating the events of endosymbiosis in eukaryotes by expanding the collection of widespread genes that provide insight to this deep history.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3473679.
- Received June 27, 2016.
- Accepted September 12, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.