Probing the origins of metazoan formin diversity: Evidence for evolutionary relationships between metazoan and non-metazoan formin subtypes

PLoS One. 2017 Oct 5;12(10):e0186081. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186081. eCollection 2017.


Formins are proteins that assist in regulating cytoskeletal organization through interactions with actin filaments and microtubules. Metazoans encode nine distinct formin subtypes based on sequence similarity, potentially allowing for great functional diversity for these proteins. Through the evolution of the eukaryotes, formins are believed to have repeatedly undergone rounds of gene duplications, followed by diversification and domain shuffling, but previous phylogenetic analyses have shed only a little light on the specific origins of different formin subtypes. To improve our understanding of this in the case of the metazoan formins, phylogenetic comparisons were made here of a broad range of metazoan and non-metazoan formin sequences. This analysis suggests a model in which eight of the nine metazoan formin subtypes arose from two ancestral proteins that were present in an ancient unikont ancestor. Additionally, evidence is shown suggesting the common ancestor of unikonts and bikonts was likely to have encoded at least two formins, a canonical Drf-type protein and a formin bearing a PTEN-like domain.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Microfilament Proteins