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Horizontal gene transfer in eukaryotic parasites: a case study of Entamoeba histolytica and Trichomonas vaginalis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Cecilia Alsmark, Professor Robert HirtORCiD, Emeritus Professor T. Martin Embley FMedSci FRSORCiD



Over the past few years it has become apparent that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has played an important role in the evolution of pathogenic prokaryotes. What is less clear is the exact role that HGT has played in shaping the metabolism of eukaryotic organisms. The main problems are the reliable inference of HGT on a genomic scale as well as the functional assignment of genes in these poorly studied organisms. We have screened the completed genomes of the protists Entamoeba histolytica and Trichomonas vaginalis for cases of HGT from prokaryotes. Using a fast primary screen followed by a conservative phylogenetic approach, we found 68 and 153 recent cases of HGT in the respective organisms. The majority of transferred genes that fall into functional categories code for enzymes involved in metabolism. We found a broad range of prokaryotic lineages represented among the donors, but organisms that share similar environmental niches with E. histolytica and T. vaginalis, such as the gut and the vaginal mucosa, dominate.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Alsmark UC, Sicheritz-Ponten T, Foster PG, Hirt RP, Embley TM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Methods in Molecular Biology

Year: 2009

Volume: 532

Pages: 489-500

Date deposited: 23/11/2009

ISSN (print): 1064-3745

ISSN (electronic): 1940-6029

Publisher: Humana Press


DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-853-9_28


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