The conservation of orthologs of most subunits of the origin recognition complex (ORC) has served to propose that the whole complex is common to all eukaryotes. However, various uncertainties have arisen concerning ORC subunit composition in a variety of lineages. Also, it is unclear whether the ancestral diversification of ORC in eukaryotes was accompanied by the neofunctionalization of some subunits, for example, role of ORC1 in centriole homeostasis. We have addressed these questions by reconstructing the distribution and evolutionary history of ORC1-5/CDC6 in a taxon-rich eukaryotic data set. First, we identified ORC subunits previously undetected in divergent lineages, which allowed us to propose a series of parsimonious scenarios for the origin of this multiprotein complex. Contrary to previous expectations, we found a global tendency in eukaryotes to increase or decrease the number of subunits as a consequence of genome duplications or streamlining, respectively. Interestingly, parasites show significantly lower number of subunits than free-living eukaryotes, especially those with the lowest genome size and gene content metrics. We also investigated the evolutionary origin of the ORC1 role in centriole homeostasis mediated by the PACT region in human cells. In particular, we tested the consequences of reducing ORC1 levels in the centriole-containing green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. We found that the proportion of centrioles to flagella and nuclei was not dramatically affected. This, together with the PACT region not being significantly more conserved in centriole-bearing eukaryotes, supports the notion that this neofunctionalization of ORC1 would be a recent acquisition rather than an ancestral eukaryotic feature.
Keywords: DNA replication; centriole; eukaryotic evolution; gene loss; origin recognition complex (ORC); parasitism, whole genome duplication.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.