Horizontal gene transfer of a Chlamydial tRNA-guanine transglycosylase gene to eukaryotic microbes Academic Article uri icon


  • tRNA-guanine transglycosylases are found in all domains of life and mediate the base exchange of guanine with queuine in the anticodon loop of tRNAs. They can also regulate virulence in bacteria such as Shigella flexneri, which has prompted the development of drugs that inhibit the function of these enzymes. Here we report a group of tRNA-guanine transglycosylases in eukaryotic microbes (algae and protozoa) which are more similar to their bacterial counterparts than previously characterized eukaryotic tRNA-guanine transglycosylases. We provide evidence demonstrating that the genes encoding these enzymes were acquired by these eukaryotic lineages via horizontal gene transfer from the Chlamydiae group of bacteria. Given that the S. flexneri tRNA-guanine transglycosylase can be targeted by drugs, we propose that the bacterial-like tRNA-guanine transglycosylases could potentially be targeted in a similar fashion in pathogenic amoebae that possess these enzymes such as Acanthamoeba castellanii. This work also presents ancient prokaryote-to-eukaryote horizontal gene transfer events as an untapped resource of potential drug target identification in pathogenic eukaryotes.

publication date

  • 2016