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Comparative and Functional Genomics
Volume 2012, Article ID 134839, 21 pages
Review Article

Diversity of Eukaryotic Translational Initiation Factor eIF4E in Protists

1Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, 701 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA
2Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, 647 Contees Wharf Road, Edgewater, MD 21037, USA
3BridgePath Scientific, 4841 International Boulevard, Suite 105, Frederick, MD 21703, USA

Received 26 January 2012; Accepted 9 April 2012

Academic Editor: Thomas Preiss

Copyright © 2012 Rosemary Jagus et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The greatest diversity of eukaryotic species is within the microbial eukaryotes, the protists, with plants and fungi/metazoa representing just two of the estimated seventy five lineages of eukaryotes. Protists are a diverse group characterized by unusual genome features and a wide range of genome sizes from 8.2 Mb in the apicomplexan parasite Babesia bovis to 112,000-220,050 Mb in the dinoflagellate Prorocentrum micans. Protists possess numerous cellular, molecular and biochemical traits not observed in “text-book” model organisms. These features challenge some of the concepts and assumptions about the regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes. Like multicellular eukaryotes, many protists encode multiple eIF4Es, but few functional studies have been undertaken except in parasitic species. An earlier phylogenetic analysis of protist eIF4Es indicated that they cannot be grouped within the three classes that describe eIF4E family members from multicellular organisms. Many more protist sequences are now available from which three clades can be recognized that are distinct from the plant/fungi/metazoan classes. Understanding of the protist eIF4Es will be facilitated as more sequences become available particularly for the under-represented opisthokonts and amoebozoa. Similarly, a better understanding of eIF4Es within each clade will develop as more functional studies of protist eIF4Es are completed.