Author(s): Koonin EV
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Abstract Comparative genomics, using computational and experimental methods, enables the identification of a minimal set of genes that is necessary and sufficient for sustaining a functional cell. For most essential cellular functions, two or more unrelated or distantly related proteins have evolved; only about 60 proteins, primarily those involved in translation, are common to all cellular life. The reconstruction of ancestral life-forms is based on the principle of evolutionary parsimony, but the size and composition of the reconstructed ancestral gene-repertoires depend on relative rates of gene loss and horizontal gene-transfer. The present estimate suggests a simple last universal common ancestor with only 500-600 genes.
This article was published in Nat Rev Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals