Functional Phylogeny: the Use of the Sensitivity of Ribosomes to Protein Synthesis Inhibitors as a Tool to Study the Evolution of Organisms

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In order to study the functional phylogeny of organisms, forty different protein synthesis inhibitors with diverse domain and funcional specificities have been used to analyze forty archaeal, bacterial and eukaryotic translational systems. The inhibition curves generated with the different ribosome-antibiotic pairs have shown very interesting similarities among organisms belonging to the same phylogenetic group, confirming the feasibility of using such information in the development of evolutionary studies. A new method to extract most of the information contained in the inhibition curves is presented. Using a statistical treatment based on the principal components analysis of the data, we have defined coordinates for the organisms which have allowed us to perform a functional clustering of them. The phenograms obtained are very similar to those generated by 16/18S rRNA sequence comparison. These results prove the phylogenetic value of our functional analysis and suggest an interesting intersection between genotypic and phenotypic (functional) information.

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