Evolutionary history of the chitin synthases of eukaryotes

Glycobiology. 2016 Jun;26(6):635-9. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cww018. Epub 2016 Feb 16.


Chitin synthases are widespread among eukaryotes and known to have a complex evolutionary history in some of the groups. We have reconstructed the chitin synthase phylogeny using the most taxonomically comprehensive dataset currently available and have shown the presence of independently formed paralogous groups in oomycetes, ciliates, fungi, and all diatoms except raphid pennates. There were also two cases of horizontal gene transfer (HGT): transfer from fungus to early diatoms gave rise to diatom paralogous group, while transfer from raphid pennate diatom to Acantamoeba ancestor is, to our knowledge, restricted to a single gene in amoeba. Early evolution of chitin synthases is heavily obscured by paralogy, and further sequencing effort is necessary.

Keywords: chitin; glycotansferase; horizontal gene transfer; protein evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba / classification
  • Acanthamoeba / enzymology
  • Acanthamoeba / genetics*
  • Chitin Synthase / genetics*
  • Chitin Synthase / metabolism
  • Ciliophora / classification
  • Ciliophora / enzymology
  • Ciliophora / genetics*
  • Diatoms / classification
  • Diatoms / enzymology
  • Diatoms / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / enzymology
  • Fungi / genetics*
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Oomycetes / classification
  • Oomycetes / enzymology
  • Oomycetes / genetics*
  • Phylogeny


  • Isoenzymes
  • Chitin Synthase