Molecular Biology and Evolution 33, 3249-3267 (2016)
The flagellum is a key innovation linked to eukaryogenesis. It provides motility by regulated cycles of bending and bend propagation, which are thought to be controlled by a complex arrangement of seven distinct dyneins in repeated patterns of outer- (OAD) and inner-arm dynein (IAD) complexes. Electron tomography showed high similarity of this axonemal repeat pattern across ciliates, algae, and animals, but the diversity of dynein sequences across the eukaryotes has not yet comprehensively been resolved and correlated with structural data. To shed light on the evolution of the axoneme I performed an exhaustive analysis of dyneins using the available sequenced genome data. Evidence from motor domain phylogeny allowed expanding the current set of nine dynein subtypes by eight additional isoforms with, however, restricted taxonomic distributions. I confirmed the presence of the nine dyneins in all eukaryotic super-groups indicating their origin predating the last eukaryotic common ancestor. The comparison of the N-terminal tail domains revealed a most likely axonemal dynein origin of the new classes, a group of chimeric dyneins in plants/algae and Stramenopiles, and the unique domain architecture and origin of the outermost OADs present in green algae and ciliates but not animals. The correlation of sequence and structural data suggests the single-headed class-8 and class-9 dyneins to localize to the distal end of the axonemal repeat and the class-7 dyneins filling the region up to the proximal heterodimeric IAD. Tracing dynein gene duplications across the eukaryotes indicated ongoing diversification and fine-tuning of flagellar functions in extant taxa and species.