Discipline: Biological Sciences
Janae Lyttle - Spelman College
The cytoskeleton of a cell plays a vital role in maintaining the cell’s internal environment as well as its shape. The cytoskeleton is composed of three main types of proteins, including actin microfilaments, intermediate filaments, and microtubules. The evolution of these cytoskeletal proteins is not well understood in the eukaryotic tree of life, as some are well conserved across the five eukaryotic supergroups and others are not. For example, intermediate filaments (IMF) have been found only in metazoans under the supergroup Opisthokonta. Though the tree of life is not well resolved, there is consensus that Amoebozoa and Opisthokonta are the most related of the supergroups, and are often classified as Unikonta or Amorphea. We investigated IMF proteins and other cytoskeletal genes, to understand the evolution and distribution of these genes in the eukaryotic tree of life. A gene inventory was conducted using a custom-made bioinformatics pipeline to search the genomes of representative eukaryotes for cytoskeletal genes. A table was formulated from the pipeline results that showed the presence or absence of the genes within each specific genome. Our results identified the IMF proteins lamin and SUN-1 to be exclusive to Amoebozoa and Opisthokonta, and phylogenetic trees were built to display the evolutionary relationships between the organisms displaying these genes. In conclusion, our findings show that some homologues of intermediate filament proteins such as lamin are also found in the supergroup Amoebozoa. This result adds support to the taxonomic hypothesis Unikonta, that proposes a close evolutionary relationship between Amoebozoa and Opisthokonta.Not Submitted
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF Award 1305041 NSF Award 1409587
Faculty Advisor: Yonas I. Tekle, Ph.D, email@example.com
Role: I conducted the majority of this research project on my own. I had guidance in the beginning when first being introduced on how to use computer functions to conduct the bioinformatics.