Interkingdom protein domain fusion: the case of an antimicrobial protein in potato (Solanum tuberosum)
Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is thought to have been involved in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic evolution. However, the extent to which it shapes eukaryotic genomes is still questionable. The ability to detect and study horizontal gene transfer events is of significant importance to our understanding of its effect on the evolution of eukaryotic genes and genomes. We performed phylogenetic analysis of a published anti-bacterial protein AP1 from potato (Solanum tuberosum). One domain encodes a phosphoesterase with high similarity to an acid phosphatase of Ralstonia solanacearum and closely related Betaproteobacteria. The second domain encodes an UspA-like domain similar to those present in plants. Our phylogenetic analyses suggest that both domains evolved along different evolutionary pathways until they merged into a single gene. We propose that the phosphoesterase domain was acquired by HGT. Our results support claims in favor of HGT detection at the protein domain level. The case of anti-bacterial protein AP1 in potato highlights the significance of gene fusion/protein domain fusion as an important feature of horizontal gene transfer which may contribute substantially to the adaptive abilities of eukaryotic organisms.