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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Apr;1163:201-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2008.03659.x.

Major genomic events and their consequences for vertebrate evolution and endocrinology.

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1
Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. Dan.Larhammar@neuro.uu.se

Abstract

Comparative studies of proteins often face the problem of distinguishing a true orthologue (species homologue) from a paralogue (a gene duplicate). This identification task is particularly challenging for endocrine peptides and neuropeptides because they are short and usually have several invariant positions. For some peptide families, this has led to a terminology with peptide names relating to the first species where a specific peptide sequence was determined, such as chicken or salmon gonadotropin-releasing hormone, or names that highlight amino acid differences, e.g., Lys-vasopressin. With accumulating information from multiple species, such a terminology becomes almost impenetrable for nonexperts and difficult even for aficionados. The sequenced genomes offer a new way to distinguish orthologues and paralogues, namely by location of the genes relative to neighboring genes on the chromosomes. In addition, the genome databases can ideally provide a complete listing of the family members in each species. Many vertebrate gene families have expanded in the two basal tetraploidizations (2R) and the teleost fish third tetraploidization (3R), after which some vertebrate lineages have lost some of the duplicates. We review here some peptide families (neuropeptide Y, oxytocin-vasopressin, and somatostatin) where genomic information helps simplify nomenclature. This approach is useful also for other gene families, such as peptide receptors.

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