Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres

, Volume 37, Issue 4–5, pp 415–418 | Cite as

Question 7: Comparative Genomics and Early Cell Evolution: A Cautionary Methodological Note

  • Sara Islas
  • Ricardo Hernández-Morales
  • Antonio Lazcano


Inventories of the gene content of the last common ancestor (LCA), i.e., the cenancestor, include sequences that may have undergone horizontal transfer events, as well as sequences that have originated in different pre-cenancestral epochs. However, the universal distribution of highly conserved genes involved in RNA metabolism provide insights into early stages of cell evolution during which RNA played a much more conspicuous biological role, and is consistent with the hypothesis that extant living systems were preceded by an RNA/protein world. Insights into the traits of primitive entities from which the LCA evolved may be derived from the analysis of paralogous gene families, including those formed by sequences that resulted from internal elongation events. Three major types of paralogous gene families can be recognized. The importance of this grouping for understanding the traits of early cells is discussed.


Cenancestor Paralogous duplications Gene elongation events RNA/protein world 



Support from CONACYT-México (Project 50520-Q) to A.L. is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Islas
    • 1
  • Ricardo Hernández-Morales
    • 1
  • Antonio Lazcano
    • 1
  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias, UNAMMexico, D.F.Mexico

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