Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Evolutionary Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Looking for the bird Kiss: evolutionary scenario in sauropsids

Jérémy Pasquier1, Anne-Gaëlle Lafont1, Karine Rousseau1, Bruno Quérat2, Philippe Chemineau3 and Sylvie Dufour1*

Author Affiliations

1 Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, UMR Biology of Aquatic Organisms and Ecosystems (BOREA), CNRS 7208, IRD 207, UPMC, Sorbonne Universités, F-75231 Paris Cedex 05, France

2 Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Unité Biologie Fonctionnelle et Adaptative (BFA), UMR8521 CNRS, U1133 Inserm, F-75013 Paris, France

3 INRA, CNRS, Université Tours, Haras Nationaux, UMR 6175 Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements (PRC), F-37380 Nouzilly, France

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2014, 14:30  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-30

Published: 19 February 2014



The neuropeptide Kiss and its receptor KissR are key-actors in the brain control of reproduction in mammals, where they are responsible for the stimulation of the activity of GnRH neurones. Investigation in other vertebrates revealed up to 3 Kiss and 4 KissR paralogs, originating from the two rounds of whole genome duplication in early vertebrates. In contrast, the absence of Kiss and KissR has been suggested in birds, as no homologs of these genes could be found in current genomic databases. This study aims at addressing the question of the existence, from an evolutionary perspective, of the Kisspeptin system in birds. It provides the first large-scale investigation of the Kisspeptin system in the sauropsid lineage, including ophidian, chelonian, crocodilian, and avian lineages.


Sauropsid Kiss and KissR genes were predicted from multiple genome and transcriptome databases by TBLASTN. Phylogenetic and syntenic analyses were performed to classify predicted sauropsid Kiss and KissR genes and to re-construct the evolutionary scenarios of both gene families across the sauropsid radiation.

Genome search, phylogenetic and synteny analyses, demonstrated the presence of two Kiss genes (Kiss1 and Kiss2 types) and of two KissR genes (KissR1 and KissR4 types) in the sauropsid lineage. These four genes, also present in the mammalian lineage, would have been inherited from their common amniote ancestor. In contrast, synteny analyses supported that the other Kiss and KissR paralogs are missing in sauropsids as in mammals, indicating their absence in the amniote lineage. Among sauropsids, in the avian lineage, we demonstrated the existence of a Kiss2-like gene in three bird genomes. The divergence of these avian Kiss2-like sequences from those of other vertebrates, as well as their absence in the genomes of some other birds, revealed the processes of Kiss2 gene degeneration and loss in the avian lineage.


These findings contribute to trace back the evolutionary history of the Kisspeptin system in amniotes and sauropsids, and provide the first molecular evidence of the existence and fate of a Kiss gene in birds.

Kisspeptin; Kiss receptor; Phylogeny; Synteny; Amniotes; Sauropsids; Birds