Sirtuin/Sir2 phylogeny, evolutionary considerations and structural conservation

Mol Cells. 2009 Nov 30;28(5):407-15. doi: 10.1007/s10059-009-0169-x. Epub 2009 Nov 18.


The sirtuins are a protein family named after the first identified member, S. cerevisiae Sir2p. Sirtuins are protein deacetylases whose activity is dependent on NAD(+) as a cosubstrate. They are structurally defined by two central domains that together form a highly conserved catalytic center, which catalyzes the transfer of an acetyl moiety from acetyllysine to NAD(+), yielding nicotinamide, the unique metabolite O-acetyl-ADP-ribose and deacetylated lysine. One or more sirtuins are present in virtually all species from bacteria to mammals. Here we describe a phylogenetic analysis of sirtuins. Based on their phylogenetic relationship, sirtuins can be grouped into over a dozen classes and subclasses. Humans, like most vertebrates, have seven sirtuins: SIRT1-SIRT7. These function in diverse cellular pathways, regulating transcriptional repression, aging, metabolism, DNA damage responses and apoptosis. We show that these seven sirtuins arose early during animal evolution. Conserved residues cluster around the catalytic center of known sirtuin family members.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Sirtuins / chemistry*
  • Sirtuins / classification
  • Sirtuins / genetics*
  • Structural Homology, Protein*


  • Sirtuins