Multiple independent L-gulonolactone oxidase (GULO) gene losses and vitamin C synthesis reacquisition events in non-Deuterostomian animal species
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER: http://hdl.handle.net/11093/4153
DOCUMENT TYPE: article
Background: L-ascorbate (Vitamin C) is an important antioxidant and co-factor in eukaryotic cells, and in mammals it is indispensable for brain development and cognitive function. Vertebrates usually become L-ascorbate auxothrophs when the last enzyme of the synthetic pathway, an L-gulonolactone oxidase (GULO), is lost. Since Protostomes were until recently thought not to have a GULO gene, they were considered to be auxothrophs for Vitamin C. Results: By performing phylogenetic analyses with tens of non-Bilateria and Protostomian genomes, it is shown, that a GULO gene is present in the non-Bilateria Placozoa, Myxozoa (here reported for the first time) and Anthozoa groups, and in Protostomians, in the Araneae family, the Gastropoda class, the Acari subclass (here reported for the first time), and the Priapulida, Annelida (here reported for the first time) and Brachiopoda phyla lineages. GULO is an old gene that predates the separation of Animals and Fungi, although it could be much older. We also show that within Protostomes, GULO has been lost multiple times in large taxonomic groups, namely the Pancrustacea, Nematoda, Platyhelminthes and Bivalvia groups, a pattern similar to that reported for Vertebrate species. Nevertheless, we show that Drosophila melanogaster seems to be capable of synthesizing L-ascorbate, likely through an alternative pathway, as recently reported for Caenorhabditis elegans. Conclusions: Non-Bilaterian and Protostomians seem to be able to synthesize Vitamin C either through the conventional animal pathway or an alternative pathway, but in this animal group, not being able to synthesize L-ascorbate seems to be the exception rather than the rule
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