The evolutionary history of MAPL (Mitochondria-Associated Protein Ligase) and other eukaryotic BAM/GIDE domain proteins

Jeremy G. Wideman, Blake P. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


MAPL (mitochondria-associated protein ligase, also called MULAN/GIDE/MUL1) is a multifunctional mitochondrial outer membrane protein found in human cells that contains a unique BAM (beside a membrane) domain and a C-terminal RING-finger domain. MAPL has been implicated in several processes that occur in animal cells such as NF-kB activation, innate immunity and antiviral signaling, suppression of PINK1/parkin defects, mitophagy in skeletal muscle, and caspase-dependent apoptosis. Previous studies demonstrated that the BAM domain is present in diverse organisms in which most of these processes do not occur, including plants, archaea, and bacteria. Thus the conserved function of MAPL and its BAM domain remains an open question. In order to gain insight into its conserved function, we investigated the evolutionary origins of MAPL by searching for homologues in predicted proteomes of diverse eukaryotes. We show that MAPL proteins with a conserved BAM-RING architecture are present in most animals, protists closely related to animals, a single species of fungus, and several multicellular plants and related green algae. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that eukaryotic MAPL proteins originate from a common ancestor and not from independent horizontal gene transfers from bacteria. We also determined that two independent duplications of MAPL occurred, one at the base of multicellular plants and another at the base of vertebrates. Although no other eukaryote genome examined contained a verifiable MAPL orthologue, BAM domain-containing proteins were identified in the protists Bigelowiella natans and Ectocarpus siliculosis. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that these proteins are more closely related to prokaryotic BAM proteins and therefore likely arose from independent horizontal gene transfers from bacteria. We conclude that MAPL proteins with BAM-RING architectures have been present in the holozoan and viridiplantae lineages since their very beginnings. Our work paves the way for future studies into MAPL function in alternative model organisms like Capsaspora owczarzaki and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii that will help to answer the question of MAPL's ancestral function in ways that cannot be answered by studying animal cells alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0128795
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 5 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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