Bacteria and Eukarya have cell membranes with sn-glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P), whereas archaeal membranes contain sn-glycerol-1-phosphate (G1P). Determining the time at which cells with either G3P-lipid membranes or G1P-lipid membranes appeared is important for understanding the early evolution of terrestrial life. To clarify this issue, we reconstructed molecular phylogenetic trees of G1PDH (G1P dehydrogenase; EgsA/AraM) which is responsible for G1P synthesis and G3PDHs (G3P dehydrogenase; GpsA and GlpA/GlpD) and glycerol kinase (GlpK) which is responsible for G3P synthesis. Together with the distribution of these protein-encoding genes among archaeal and bacterial groups, our phylogenetic analyses suggested that GlpA/GlpD in the Commonote (the last universal common ancestor of all extant life with a cellular form, Commonote commonote) acquired EgsA (G1PDH) from the archaeal common ancestor (Commonote archaea) and acquired GpsA and GlpK from a bacterial common ancestor (Commonote bacteria). In our scenario based on this study, the Commonote probably possessed a G3P-lipid membrane synthesized enzymatically, after which the archaeal lineage acquired G1PDH followed by the replacement of a G3P-lipid membrane with a G1P-lipid membrane.
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