Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Testing the Hypothesis that the Nylonase NylB Protein Arose de novo via a Frameshift Mutation

Version 1 : Received: 6 March 2019 / Approved: 10 May 2019 / Online: 10 May 2019 (12:00:50 CEST)

How to cite: Cordova, S.; Sanford, J. Testing the Hypothesis that the Nylonase NylB Protein Arose de novo via a Frameshift Mutation. Preprints 2019, 2019050123 Cordova, S.; Sanford, J. Testing the Hypothesis that the Nylonase NylB Protein Arose de novo via a Frameshift Mutation. Preprints 2019, 2019050123

Abstract

In 1984, Susumu Ohno hypothesized that the nylon-degrading enzyme NylB arose de novo via a frameshift mutation within a hypothetical precursor protein (PR.C). However, Ohno never tested his hypothesis or provided supporting biological evidence. For decades, Ohno’s famous frame-shift hypothesis has been uncritically accepted as the correct explanation for the origin of NylB and has been used to illustrate how simple it is for a totally new enzyme to arise spontaneously. In this paper we test Ohno’s hypothesis in light of data not available in 1984. We searched multiple protein databases and found that the NylB protein is widely occurring, has thousands of homologs, and is found in diverse organisms and diverse habitats. Conserved domain searches showed that the NylB sequence is homologous to beta lactamases - a family of highly conserved enzymes. However, our searches showed that there is no evidence for the existence of Ohno’s hypothetical PR.C protein, nor any credible homolog. Our results effectively falsify Ohno's frameshift hypothesis. We extended this analysis to other nylonases and found all the nylonases we examined had large numbers of homologs throughout the biosphere. This falsifies the long-held assumption that all nylonases evolved after the invention of nylon in 1935.

Subject Areas

Bioinformatics, Proteomics, Protein Evolution

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