Evolution of diverse cell division and vesicle formation systems in Archaea

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2010 Oct;8(10):731-41. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2406. Epub 2010 Sep 6.


Recently a novel cell division system comprised of homologues of eukaryotic ESCRT-III (endosomal sorting complex required for transport III) proteins was discovered in the hyperthermophilic crenarchaeote Sulfolobus acidocaldarius. On the basis of this discovery, we undertook a comparative genomic analysis of the machineries for cell division and vesicle formation in Archaea. Archaea possess at least three distinct membrane remodelling systems: the FtsZ-based bacterial-type system, the ESCRT-III-based eukaryote-like system and a putative novel system that uses an archaeal actin-related protein. Many archaeal genomes encode assortments of components from different systems. Evolutionary reconstruction from these findings suggests that the last common ancestor of the extant Archaea possessed a complex membrane remodelling apparatus, different components of which were lost during subsequent evolution of archaeal lineages. By contrast, eukaryotes seem to have inherited all three ancestral systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / classification*
  • Archaea / cytology
  • Archaea / genetics
  • Archaea / physiology*
  • Archaeal Proteins / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacteria / cytology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cell Division / genetics
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / genetics
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / physiology*
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport / genetics
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport / metabolism
  • Eukaryota / cytology
  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Eukaryota / metabolism
  • Genome, Archaeal / genetics


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport
  • FtsZ protein, Methanococcus jannaschii