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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The vertebrate ancestral repertoire of visual opsins, transducin alpha subunits and oxytocin/vasopressin receptors was established by duplication of their shared genomic region in the two rounds of early vertebrate genome duplications

David Lagman1, Daniel Ocampo Daza1, Jenny Widmark1, Xesús M Abalo1, Görel Sundström12 and Dan Larhammar1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, Box 593, SE-75124 Uppsala, Sweden

2 Present address: Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, Box 582, SE-75123 Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013, 13:238  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-238

Published: 2 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Vertebrate color vision is dependent on four major color opsin subtypes: RH2 (green opsin), SWS1 (ultraviolet opsin), SWS2 (blue opsin), and LWS (red opsin). Together with the dim-light receptor rhodopsin (RH1), these form the family of vertebrate visual opsins. Vertebrate genomes contain many multi-membered gene families that can largely be explained by the two rounds of whole genome duplication (WGD) in the vertebrate ancestor (2R) followed by a third round in the teleost ancestor (3R). Related chromosome regions resulting from WGD or block duplications are said to form a paralogon. We describe here a paralogon containing the genes for visual opsins, the G-protein alpha subunit families for transducin (GNAT) and adenylyl cyclase inhibition (GNAI), the oxytocin and vasopressin receptors (OT/VP-R), and the L-type voltage-gated calcium channels (CACNA1-L).

Results

Sequence-based phylogenies and analyses of conserved synteny show that the above-mentioned gene families, and many neighboring gene families, expanded in the early vertebrate WGDs. This allows us to deduce the following evolutionary scenario: The vertebrate ancestor had a chromosome containing the genes for two visual opsins, one GNAT, one GNAI, two OT/VP-Rs and one CACNA1-L gene. This chromosome was quadrupled in 2R. Subsequent gene losses resulted in a set of five visual opsin genes, three GNAT and GNAI genes, six OT/VP-R genes and four CACNA1-L genes. These regions were duplicated again in 3R resulting in additional teleost genes for some of the families. Major chromosomal rearrangements have taken place in the teleost genomes. By comparison with the corresponding chromosomal regions in the spotted gar, which diverged prior to 3R, we could time these rearrangements to post-3R.

Conclusions

We present an extensive analysis of the paralogon housing the visual opsin, GNAT and GNAI, OT/VP-R, and CACNA1-L gene families. The combined data imply that the early vertebrate WGD events contributed to the evolution of vision and the other neuronal and neuroendocrine functions exerted by the proteins encoded by these gene families. In pouched lamprey all five visual opsin genes have previously been identified, suggesting that lampreys diverged from the jawed vertebrates after 2R.

Keywords:
Visual opsins; Whole genome duplications; Chromosome rearrangements; Opsin evolution; Oxytocin receptors; Vasopressin receptors; G-protein alpha transducing subunits; Voltage-gated calcium channels