Functional analyses of the horizontally acquired Phytophaga glycoside hydrolase family 45 (GH45) proteins reveal distinct functional characteristics
Cellulose, a major polysaccharide of the plant cell wall, consists of β-1,4-linked glucose moieties forming a molecular network recalcitrant to enzymatic breakdown. Although cellulose is potentially a rich source of energy, the ability to degrade it is rare in animals and was believed to be present only in cellulolytic microbes. Recently, it has become clear that some animals encode endogenous cellulases belonging to several glycoside hydrolase families (GHs), including GH45. GH45s are distributed patchily among the Metazoa and, in insects, are encoded only by the genomes of Phytophaga beetles. This study aims to understand both the enzymatic properties and the evolutionary history of GH45s in these beetles. To this end, we tested the enzymatic abilities of 37 GH45s derived from five species of Phytophaga beetles and learned that beetle-derived GH45s degrade three different substrates: amorphous cellulose, xyloglucan and glucomannan. Our phylogenetic and gene structure analyses indicate that at least one gene encoding a putative cellulolytic GH45 was present in the last common ancestor of the Phytophaga, and that GH45 xyloglucanases evolved several times independently in these beetles. The most closely related clade to Phytophaga GH45s contained fungal sequences, suggesting this GH family was acquired by horizontal gene transfer from fungi. Other than in insects, arthropod GH45s do not share a common origin and appear to have emerged at least three times independently.
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