Evidence that eukaryotes and eocyte prokaryotes are immediate relatives

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Science  03 Jul 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5066, pp. 74-76
DOI: 10.1126/science.1621096


The phylogenetic origin of eukaryotes has been unclear because eukaryotic nuclear genes have diverged substantially from prokaryotic ones. The genes coding for elongation factor EF-1 alpha were compared among various organisms. The EF-1 alpha sequences of eukaryotes contained an 11-amino acid segment that was also found in eocytes (extremely thermophilic, sulfur-metabolizing bacteria) but that was absent in all other bacteria. The related (paralogous) genes encoding elongation factor EF-2 and initiation factor IF-2 also lacked the 11-amino acid insert. These data imply that the eocytes are the closest surviving relatives (sister taxon) of the eukaryotes.

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