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Adaptations to different diets represent a hallmark of animal diversity. The diets of birds are highly variable, making them an excellent model system for studying adaptive evolution driven by dietary changes. To test whether molecular adaptations to diet have occurred during the evolution of birds, we examined a dietary enzyme alanine-glyoxylate aminotransferase (AGT), which tends to target mitochondria in carnivorous mammals, peroxisomes in herbivorous mammals, and both mitochondria and peroxisomes in omnivorous mammals. A total of 31 bird species were examined in this study, which included representatives of most major avian lineages. Of these, 29 have an intact mitochondrial targeting sequence (MTS) of AGT. This finding is in stark contrast to mammals, which showed a number of independent losses of the MTS. Our cell-based functional assays revealed that the efficiency of AGT mitochondrial targeting was greatly reduced in unrelated lineages of granivorous birds, yet it tended to be high in insectivorous and carnivorous lineages. Furthermore, we found that proportions of animal tissue in avian diets were positively correlated with mitochondrial targeting efficiencies that were experimentally determined, but not with those that were computationally predicted. Adaptive evolution of AGT mitochondrial targeting in birds was further supported by the detection of positive selection on MTS regions. Our study contributes to the understanding of how diet drives molecular adaptations in animals, and suggests that caution must be taken when computationally predicting protein subcellular targeting.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Molecular biology and evolution
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An aspartate aminotransferase found in MITOCHONDRIA.
An aspartate aminotransferase found in the CYTOPLASM.
A key enzyme in the glyoxylate cycle. It catalyzes the conversion of isocitrate to succinate and glyoxylate. EC 22.214.171.124.
An NAD-dependent enzyme that catalyzes the reversible DEAMINATION of L-ALANINE to PYRUVATE and AMMONIA. The enzyme is needed for growth when ALANINE is the sole CARBON or NITROGEN source. It may also play a role in CELL WALL synthesis because L-ALANINE is an important constituent of the PEPTIDOGLYCAN layer.
A pyridoxal-phosphate protein that reversibly catalyzes the conversion of L-alanine to D-alanine. EC 126.96.36.199.
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze (i.e., increase the rates of) chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical re...