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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Mar 1;334(1-2):21-30. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2010.10.017. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Origin and evolution of the ligand-binding ability of nuclear receptors.

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Molecular Zoology Team, Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle de Lyon, Université de Lyon, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Université Lyon 1, CNRS, INRA, Institut Fédératif 128 Biosciences Gerland Lyon Sud, France.


The origin of the ligand-binding ability of nuclear receptors is still a matter of discussion. Current opposing models are the early evolution of an ancestral receptor that would bind a specific ligand with high affinity and the early evolution of an ancestral orphan that was a constitutive transcription factor. Here we review the arguments in favour or against these two hypotheses, and we discuss an alternative possibility that the ancestor was a ligand sensor, which would be able to explain the apparently contradictory data generated in previous models for the evolution of ligand binding in nuclear receptors.

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