We have identified 24 members of the DnaK subfamily of heat shock 70 proteins (Hsp70s) in the complete genomes of 5 diverse photosynthetic eukaryotes. The Hsp70s are a ubiquitous protein family that is highly conserved across all domains of life. Eukaryotic Hsp70s are found in a number of subcellular compartments in the cell: cytoplasm, mitochondrion (MT), chloroplast (CP), and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Although the Hsp70s have been the subject of intense study in model organisms, very little is known of the Hsp70s from early diverging photosynthetic lineages. The sequencing of the complete genomes of Thalassiosira pseudonana (a diatom), Cyanidioschyzon merolae (a red alga), and 3 green algae (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Ostreococcus lucimarinus, Ostreococcus tauri) allow us to conduct comparative genomics of the Hsp70s present in these diverse photosynthetic eukaryotes. We have found that the distinct lineages of Hsp70s (MT, CP, ER, and cytoplasmic) each have different evolutionary histories. In general, evolutionary patterns of the mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum Hsp70s are relatively stable even among very distantly related organisms. This is not true of the chloroplast Hsp70s and we discuss the distinct evolutionary patterns between “green” and “red” plastids. Finally, we find that, in contrast to the angiosperms Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa that have numerous cytoplasmic Hsp70, the 5 algal species have only 1 cytoplasmic Hsp70 each. The evolutionary and functional implications of these differences are discussed.
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