Distribution and the evolutionary history of G-protein components in plant and algal lineages

Boominathan Mohanasundaram, Audrey Dodds, Vandna Kukshal, Joseph M. Jez, Sona Pandey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Heterotrimeric G-protein complexes comprising Gα-, Gβ-, and Gγ-subunits and the regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) are conserved across most eukaryotic lineages. Signaling pathways mediated by these proteins influence overall growth, development, and physiology. In plants, this protein complex has been characterized primarily from angiosperms with the exception of spreading-leaved earth moss (Physcomitrium patens) and Chara braunii (charophytic algae). Even within angiosperms, specific G-protein components are missing in certain species, whereas unique plant-specific variants—the extra-large Gα (XLGα) and the cysteine-rich Gγ proteins—also exist. The distribution and evolutionary history of G-proteins and their function in nonangiosperm lineages remain mostly unknown. We explored this using the wealth of available sequence data spanning algae to angiosperms representing extant species that diverged approximately 1,500 million years ago, using BLAST, synteny analysis, and custom-built Hidden Markov Model profile searches. We show that a minimal set of components forming the XLGαβγ trimer exists in the entire land plant lineage, but their presence is sporadic in algae. Additionally, individual components have distinct evolutionary histories. The XLGα exhibits many lineage-specific gene duplications, whereas Gα and RGS show several instances of gene loss. Similarly, Gβ remained constant in both number and structure, but Gγ diverged before the emergence of land plants and underwent changes in protein domains, which led to three distinct subtypes. These results highlight the evolutionary oddities and summarize the phyletic patterns of this conserved signaling pathway in plants. They also provide a framework to formulate pertinent questions on plant G-protein signaling within an evolutionary context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1519-1535
Number of pages17
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2022


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