The sequences of heat shock protein 40 (DnaJ) homologs provide evidence for a close evolutionary relationship between the Deinococcus- Thermus group and cyanobacteria
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The genes encoding for heat shock protein 40 (Hsp40 or DnaJ) homologs were cloned and sequenced from the archaebacterium Halobacterium cutirubrum and the eubacterium Deinococcus proteolyticus to add to sequences from the gene banks. These genes were identified downstream of the Hsp70 (or DnaK) genes in genomic fragments spanning this region and, as in other prokaryotic species, Hsp70-Hsp40 genes are likely part of the same operon. The Hsp40 homolog from D. proteolyticus was found to be lacking a central 204 base pair region present in H. cutirubrum that encodes for the four cysteine-rich domains of the repeat consensus sequence CxxCxGxG (where x is any amino acid), present in most Hsp40 homologs. The available sequences from various archaebacteria, eubacteria, and eukaryotes show that the same deletion is also present in the homologs from Thermus aquaticus and two cyanobacteria, but in no other species tested. This unique deletion and the clustering of homologs from the Deinococcus-Thermus group and cyanobacterial species in the Hsp40 phylogenetic trees suggest a close evolutionary relationship between these groups as was also shown recently for Hsp70 sequences (R.S. Gupta et al., J Bacteriol 179:345-357, 1997). Sequence comparisons indicate that the Hsp40 homologs are not as conserved as the Hsp70 sequences. Phylogenetic analysis provides no reliable information concerning evolutionary relationship between prokaryotes and eukaryotes and their usefulness in this regard is limited. However, in phylogenetic trees based on Hsp40 sequences, the two archaebacterial homologs showed a polyphyletic branching within Gram-positive bacteria, similar to that seen with Hsp70 sequences.
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