MSc S. Russum, grad students K. J. K. Lam and N.A. Wong, alumnus V. Iddamsetty, grad students K. J. Hendargo and J Wang, undergrad A. Dubey, alumnus Y. Zhang, Dr. Medrano-Soto and Dr. Saier just published a paper in the journal PLoS ONE. The title is: “Comparative population genomic analyses of transporters within the Asgard archaeal superphylum“. For your convenience, this is the link to PubMed.
Upon discovery of the first archaeal species in the 1970s, life has been subdivided into three domains: Eukarya, Archaea, and Bacteria. However, the organization of the three-domain tree of life has been challenged following the discovery of archaeal lineages such as the TACK and Asgard superphyla. The Asgard Superphylum has emerged as the closest archaeal ancestor to eukaryotes, potentially improving our understanding of the evolution of life forms. We characterized the transportomes and their substrates within four metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), that is, Odin-, Thor-, Heimdall- and Loki-archaeota as well as the fully sequenced genome of Candidatus Prometheoarchaeum syntrophicum strain MK-D1 that belongs to the Loki phylum. Using the Transporter Classification Database (TCDB) as reference, candidate transporters encoded within the proteomes were identified based on sequence similarity, alignment coverage, compatibility of hydropathy profiles, TMS topologies and shared domains. Identified transport systems were compared within the Asgard superphylum as well as within dissimilar eukaryotic, archaeal and bacterial organisms. From these analyses, we infer that Asgard organisms rely mostly on the transport of substrates driven by the proton motive force (pmf), the proton electrochemical gradient which then can be used for ATP production and to drive the activities of secondary carriers. The results indicate that Asgard archaea depend heavily on the uptake of organic molecules such as lipid precursors, amino acids and their derivatives, and sugars and their derivatives. Overall, the majority of the transporters identified are more similar to prokaryotic transporters than eukaryotic systems although several instances of the reverse were documented. Taken together, the results support the previous suggestions that the Asgard superphylum includes organisms that are largely mixotrophic and anaerobic but more clearly define their metabolic potential while providing evidence regarding their relatedness to eukaryotes.