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PLOS ONE  2012 

Origin and Diversification of TRIM Ubiquitin Ligases

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050030

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Most proteins of the TRIM family (also known as RBCC family) are ubiquitin ligases that share a peculiar protein structure, characterized by including an N-terminal RING finger domain closely followed by one or two B-boxes. Additional protein domains found at their C termini have been used to classify TRIM proteins into classes. TRIMs are involved in multiple cellular processes and many of them are essential components of the innate immunity system of animal species. In humans, it has been shown that mutations in several TRIM-encoding genes lead to diverse genetic diseases and contribute to several types of cancer. They had been hitherto detected only in animals. In this work, by comprehensively analyzing the available diversity of TRIM and TRIM-like protein sequences and evaluating their evolutionary patterns, an improved classification of the TRIM family is obtained. Members of one of the TRIM subfamilies defined, called Subfamily A, turn to be present not only in animals, but also in many other eukaryotes, such as fungi, apusozoans, alveolates, excavates and plants. The rest of subfamilies are animal-specific and several of them originated only recently. Subfamily A proteins are characterized by containing a MATH domain, suggesting a potential evolutionary connection between TRIM proteins and a different type of ubiquitin ligases, known as TRAFs, which contain quite similar MATH domains. These results indicate that the TRIM family emerged much earlier than so far thought and contribute to our understanding of its origin and diversification. The structural and evolutionary links with the TRAF family of ubiquitin ligases can be experimentally explored to determine whether functional connections also exist.


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