Phylogenetic analysis of the diacylglycerol kinase family of proteins and identification of multiple highly-specific conserved inserts and deletions within the catalytic domain that are distinctive characteristics of different classes of DGK homologs
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Diacylglycerol kinase (DGK) family of proteins, which phosphorylates diacylglycerol into phosphatidic acid, play important role in controlling diverse cellular processes in eukaryotic organisms. Most vertebrate species contain 10 different DGK isozymes, which are grouped into 5 different classes based on the presence or absence of specific functional domains. However, the relationships among different DGK isozymes or how they have evolved from a common ancestor is unclear. The catalytic domain constitutes the single largest sequence element within the DGK proteins that is commonly and uniquely shared by all family members, but there is limited understanding of the overall function of this domain. In this work, we have used the catalytic domain sequences to construct a phylogenetic tree for the DGK family members from representatives of the main vertebrate classes and have also examined the distributions of various DGK isozymes in eukaryotic phyla. In a tree based on catalytic domain sequences, the DGK homologs belonging to different classes formed strongly supported clusters which were separated by long branches, and the different isozymes within each class also generally formed monophyletic groupings. Further, our analysis of the sequence alignments of catalytic domains has identified >10 novel sequence signatures consisting of conserved signature indels (inserts or deletions, CSIs) that are distinctive characteristics of either particular classes of DGK isozymes, or are commonly shared by members of two or more classes of DGK isozymes. The conserved indels in protein sequences are known to play important functional roles in the proteins/organisms where they are found. Thus, our identification of multiple highly specific CSIs that are distinguishing characteristics of different classes of DGK homologs points to the existence of important differences in the catalytic domain function among the DGK isozymes. The identified CSIs in conjunction with the results of blast searches on species distribution of DGK isozymes also provide useful insights into the evolutionary relationships among the DGK family of proteins.
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