Modern proteomes contain putative imprints of ancient shifts in trace metal geochemistry
Dupont CL, Yang S, Palenik B, Bourne PE
Because of the rise in atmospheric oxygen 2.3 billion years ago (Gya) and the subsequent changes in oceanic redox state over the last 2.3-1 Gya, trace metal bioavailability in marine environments has changed dramatically. Although theorized to have influenced the biological usage of metals leaving discernable genomic signals, a thorough and quantitative test of this hypothesis has been lacking. Using structural bioinformatics and whole-genome sequences, the Fe-, Zn-, Mn-, and Co-binding metallomes of 23 Archaea, 233 Bacteria, and 57 Eukarya were constructed. These metallomes reveal that the overall abundances of these metal-binding structures scale to proteome size as power laws with a unique set of slopes for each Superkingdom of Life. The differences in the power describing the abundances of Fe-, Mn-, Zn-, and Co-binding proteins in the proteomes of Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes are similar to the theorized changes in the abundances of these metals after the oxygenation of oceanic deep waters. This phenomenon suggests that Prokarya and Eukarya evolved in anoxic and oxic environments, respectively, a hypothesis further supported by structures and functions of Fe-binding proteins in each Superkingdom. Also observed is a proliferation in the diversity of Zn-binding protein structures involved in protein-DNA and protein-protein interactions within Eukarya, an event unlikely to occur in either an anoxic or euxinic environment where Zn concentrations would be vanishingly low. We hypothesize that these conserved trends are proteomic imprints of changes in trace metal bioavailability in the ancient ocean that highlight a major evolutionary shift in biological trace metal usage.
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