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Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 23;8(1):3539. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-21897-7.

Diversity and evolution of four-domain voltage-gated cation channels of eukaryotes and their ancestral functional determinants.

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Institute of Cytology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg, 194064, Russia.
Institute of Cytology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg, 194064, Russia.


Four-domain voltage-gated cation channels (FVCCs) represent a large family of pseudo-tetrameric ion channels which includes voltage-gated calcium (Cav) and sodium (Nav) channels, as well as their homologues. These transmembrane proteins are involved in a wide range of physiological processes, such as membrane excitability, rhythmical activity, intracellular signalling, etc. Information about actual diversity and phylogenetic relationships of FVCCs across the eukaryotic tree of life is scarce. We for the first time performed a taxonomically broad phylogenetic analysis of 277 FVCC sequences from a variety of eukaryotes and showed that many groups of eukaryotic organisms have their own clades of FVCCs. Moreover, the number of FVCC lineages in several groups of unicellular eukaryotes is comparable to that in animals. Based on the primary structure of FVCC sequences, we characterised their functional determinants (selectivity filter, voltage sensor, Nav-like inactivation gates, Cavβ-interaction motif, and calmodulin-binding region) and mapped them on the obtained phylogeny. This allowed uncovering of lineage-specific structural gains and losses in the course of FVCC evolution and identification of ancient structural features of these channels. Our results indicate that the ancestral FVCC was voltage-sensitive, possessed a Cav-like selectivity filter, Nav-like inactivation gates, calmodulin-binding motifs and did not bear the structure for Cavβ-binding.

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