Evolution and Quantitative Comparison of Genome-Wide Protein Domain Distributions
The metabolic and regulatory capabilities of an organism are implicit in its protein content. This is often hard to estimate, however, due to ascertainment biases inherent in the available genome annotations. Its complement of recognizable functional protein domains and their combinations convey essentially the same information and at the same time are much more readily accessible, although protein domain models trained for one phylogenetic group frequently fail on distantly related sequences. Pooling related domain models based on their GO-annotation in combination with de novo gene prediction methods provides estimates that seem to be less affected by phylogenetic biases. We show here for 18 diverse representatives from all eukaryotic kingdoms that a pooled analysis of the tendencies for co-occurrence or avoidance of protein domains is indeed feasible. This type of analysis can reveal general large-scale patterns in the domain co-occurrence and helps to identify lineage-specific variations in the evolution of protein domains. Somewhat surprisingly, we do not find strong ubiquitous patterns governing the evolutionary behavior of specific functional classes. Instead, there are strong variations between the major groups of Eukaryotes, pointing at systematic differences in their evolutionary constraints.