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Crop Sciences

College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Gustavo  Caetano-Anolles  

Gustavo Caetano-Anolles

Professor of Bioinformatics
332 National Soybean Research Center
MC 637
1101 W Peabody Dr
Urbana, IL 61801

Ph: (217) 333-8172
Fax: (217) 333-8046

Video conferencing: ichat logo

Lab: (217) 333-9877
Metabolic ManetGCA Laboratory

BLOG :: GCA laboratory


Wang M, CG Kurland and G Caetano-Anollés (2011) Reductive evolution of proteomes and protein structures.Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences US, (Jul 5) E-pub ahead of print (abstract)

Kim KM and G Caetano-Anollés (2011) The proteomic complexity and rise of the primordial ancestor of diversified life. BMC Evolutionary Biology 11: 140 (abstract)

Caetano-Anollés D, KM Kim and G Caetano-Anollés (2011) Proteome evolution and the metabolic origins of translation and cellular life. Journal of Molecular Evolution 72: 14-32 (abstract)

Wang M, YY Jiang, KM Kim, G Qu, HF Ji, JE Mittenthal, HY Zhang and G Caetano-Anollés (2011) A universal molecular clock of protein folds and its power in tracing the early history of aerobic metabolism and planet oxygenation. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28 (1): 567-582 (abstract)

Sun F-J and G Caetano-Anollés (2010) The origin of modern 5S rRNA: A case of relating models of structural history to phylogenetic data. Journal of Molecular Evolution 71(1): 3-5 (abstract)

Dupont CL, A Butcher, RE Valas, PE Bourne, and G Caetano-Anollés (2010) History of biological metal utilization inferred through phylogenomic analysis of protein structure. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107 (23): 10567-10572 (abstract)

Kim KM and G Caetano-Anollés (2010) Emergence and evolution of modern molecular functions inferred from phylogenomic analysis of ontological data. Molecular Biology and Evolution 27 (7): 1710-1733 (abstract)

Sun F-J and G Caetano-Anollés (2010) The ancient history of the structure of ribonuclease P and the early origins of Archaea. BMC Bioinformatics 11:153 (abstract)

Qi M, F-J Sun, G Caetano-Anollés G, and Y Zhao (2010) Comparative genomic and phylogenetic analysis of two-component signal transduction systems in Erwinia amylovora and related enterobacteria. Journal of Molecular Evolution 70:167-180 (abstract)

Sun F-J and G Caetano-Anollés (2009) The evolutionary history of the structure of 5S ribosomal RNA. Journal of Molecular Evolution 69:430-443 (abstract).

Sun F-J and G Caetano-Anollés (2009) The evolutionary significance of the long variable arm in transfer RNA. Complexity14:26-39 (abstract).

Wang M and G Caetano-Anollés (2009) The evolutionary mechanics of domain organization in proteomes and the rise of moduarity in the protein world. Structure 17: 66-78 (abstract) Press release: Study of protein structures reveals key events in evolutionary history

Kim KM, S Sung, G Caetano-Anollés, JY Han, and H Kim (2008) An approach to orthology detection from homologous sequences under minimum evolution. Nucleic Acids Research 36(17): e10 (abstract) (pdf)

Sun F-J and G Caetano-Anollés (2008) Evolutionary patterns in the sequence and structure of transfer RNA: a window into early translation and the genetic code. PLoS ONE 3: e2799 (abstract)(pdf) Press release: Study reveals surprising details of the evolution of protein translation

Knudsen V and G Caetano-Anollés (2008) NOBAI: a web server for character coding of geometrical and statistical features in RNA structure. Nucleic Acids Research 36: 85-90 (abstract)(pdf)

Sun F-J and G Caetano-Anollés (2008) Evolutionary patterns in the sequence and structure of transfer RNA: early origins of Archaea and viruses. PLoS Computational Biology 4: e1000018. (abstract) (pdf) Press release: Researchers see history of life in the structure of transfer RNA

Sun F-J and G Caetano-Anollés (2008) The origin and evolution of tRNA inferred from phylogenetic analysis of structure. Journal of Molecular Evolution 66: 21-35. (abstract)





introBIG BANG IN THE PROTEIN WOLRD: Most proteins consist of one or more domains, tightly folded segments of the polypeptide chain that act as structural, functional, and evolutionary units. Domains sometimes combine with each other or excise to produce new proteins and this process is non-random and highly conserved in evolution. Wang and Caetano-Anollés (2009) reconstruct genome-based phylogenetic trees that define timelines of discovery of domains and domain combinations and describe an explosive combinatorial game that is vastly responsible for the complexity of the protein world. This ‘big bang’ of protein discovery occured during early stages of diversified life and its explosive appearance in the world is here illustrated as a cosmic event that features in the foreground several domain combinations of the membrane-associated guanylate kinase (MAGUK) family. From January 2009 issue of the journal Structure (abstract).

My current reseach program focuses on creative ways to mine, visualize and integrate data from structural and functional genomic research. I am particularly interested in the evolution of macromolecular structure and networks in biology, the reconstruction of phylogenetic history, and the incorporation of evolutionary considerations in genomic research. Research relates to the ‘mapping’ of genotype, phenotype, function and fitness to each other, and how this mapping can be used to study origins of molecular diversification, biological systems, processes that are linked to co-evolutionary phenomena (such as pathogenesis and symbiosis), and levels and patterns of genome-wide muation.

Evolution of macromolecular structure and genomic demography: Most functional constraints on the evolutionary divergence of molecules operate at the level of tertiary structure. Consequently, three-dimensional structures are generally more evolutionary conserved than sequences. We have therefore chosen to reconstruct phylogenetic history directly from the structure of proteins and nucleic acids. In these studies, structure, function, and genomic demography are embedded directly into phylogenetic analysis and molecules and genomes compared at a wide range of evolutionary levels, from the subspecies analysis of a fungal plant pathogen to the universal tree of life. This phylogenetic approach can be used to unravel evolutionary processes and uncover functional relationships in RNA molecules, proteomes, and protein architectures. Current studies: (1) compare systematically the structure of proteins and nucleic acids at different evolutionary levels, (2) establish which are the ‘contextual’ constraints imposed by the function and inherent properties of these molecules, and (3) delimit a structural morphospace for phylogenomic analysis.


Caetano-Anollés G (2010) Evolutionary Genomics and Systems Biology. Wiley-Blackwell (ad).


Caetano-Anollés G, and JE Mittenthal (2010) Exploring the interplay of stability and function in protein evolution. BioEssays 32(8): 655-658 (abstract)

Caetano-Anollés G, M Wang, D Caetano-Anollés, and JE Mittenthal (2009) The origin, evolution and structure of the protein world. Biochemical Journal 417: 621-637 (abstract)(pdf).

Caetano-Anollés G, LS Yafremava, H Gee, D Caetano-Anollés, and JE Mittenthal (2009) The origin and evolution of modern metabolism. International J Biochemistry & Cell Biology 41: 285-297. (abstract)(advance access: pdf)

Sun F-J and G Caetano-Anollés (2008) Transfer RNA and the origins of diversified life. Science Progress 91: 265-284. (abstract)

Caetano-Anollés G, Sun F-J, ML, Wang, LS Yafremava, A Harish, HS Kim, V Knudsen, D. Caetano-Anollés G and JE Mittenthal (2008) Origins and evolution of modern biochemistry: insights from genomes and molecular structure. Frontiers in Bioscience 13: 5212-5240. (abstract)(pdf)

Caetano-Anollés G (2011) The phylogenomic roots of modern bochemistry. Paleobiology during the genomic era. Meeting sponsored by NASA and the Craig Venter Institute, May 12, 2011. Video presentation (video)

View Gustavo Caetano-Anollés' publications at the National Library of Medicine (PubMed)

Research sponsored by

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