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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32923. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032923. Epub 2012 Mar 21.

Using paleogenomics to study the evolution of gene families: origin and duplication history of the relaxin family hormones and their receptors.

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1
Department of Biology, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Abstract

Recent progress in the analysis of whole genome sequencing data has resulted in the emergence of paleogenomics, a field devoted to the reconstruction of ancestral genomes. Ancestral karyotype reconstructions have been used primarily to illustrate the dynamic nature of genome evolution. In this paper, we demonstrate how they can also be used to study individual gene families by examining the evolutionary history of relaxin hormones (RLN/INSL) and relaxin family peptide receptors (RXFP). Relaxin family hormones are members of the insulin superfamily, and are implicated in the regulation of a variety of primarily reproductive and neuroendocrine processes. Their receptors are G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR's) and include members of two distinct evolutionary groups, an unusual characteristic. Although several studies have tried to elucidate the origins of the relaxin peptide family, the evolutionary origin of their receptors and the mechanisms driving the diversification of the RLN/INSL-RXFP signaling systems in non-placental vertebrates has remained elusive. Here we show that the numerous vertebrate RLN/INSL and RXFP genes are products of an ancestral receptor-ligand system that originally consisted of three genes, two of which apparently trace their origins to invertebrates. Subsequently, diversification of the system was driven primarily by whole genome duplications (WGD, 2R and 3R) followed by almost complete retention of the ligand duplicates in most vertebrates but massive loss of receptor genes in tetrapods. Interestingly, the majority of 3R duplicates retained in teleosts are potentially involved in neuroendocrine regulation. Furthermore, we infer that the ancestral AncRxfp3/4 receptor may have been syntenically linked to the AncRln-like ligand in the pre-2R genome, and show that syntenic linkages among ligands and receptors have changed dynamically in different lineages. This study ultimately shows the broad utility, with some caveats, of incorporating paleogenomics data into understanding the evolution of gene families.

PMID:
22470432
PMCID:
PMC3310001
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0032923
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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