The extracellular Leucine-Rich Repeat superfamily; a comparative survey and analysis of evolutionary relationships and expression patterns
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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:320 doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-320Published: 14 September 2007
Leucine-rich repeats (LRRs) are highly versatile and evolvable protein-ligand interaction motifs found in a large number of proteins with diverse functions, including innate immunity and nervous system development. Here we catalogue all of the extracellular LRR (eLRR) proteins in worms, flies, mice and humans. We use convergent evidence from several transmembrane-prediction and motif-detection programs, including a customised algorithm, LRRscan, to identify eLRR proteins, and a hierarchical clustering method based on TribeMCL to establish their evolutionary relationships.
This yields a total of 369 proteins (29 in worm, 66 in fly, 135 in mouse and 139 in human), many of them of unknown function. We group eLRR proteins into several classes: those with only LRRs, those that cluster with Toll-like receptors (Tlrs), those with immunoglobulin or fibronectin-type 3 (FN3) domains and those with some other domain. These groups show differential patterns of expansion and diversification across species. Our analyses reveal several clusters of novel genes, including two Elfn genes, encoding transmembrane proteins with
This study provides the necessary foundation for a systematic analysis of the functions of this class of genes, which are likely to include prominently innate immunity, inflammation and neural development, especially the specification of neuronal connectivity.