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Evolution of the G protein-coupled receptor signaling system: Genomic and phylogenetic analyses
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Functional Pharmacology. Uppsala University.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Signal transduction pathways mediated by G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and their intracellular coupling partners, the heterotrimeric G proteins, are crucial for several physiological functions in eukaryotes, including humans. This thesis describes a broad genomic survey and extensive comparative phylogenetic analysis of GPCR and G protein families from a wide selection of eukaryotes. A robust mining of GPCR families in fungal genomes (Paper I) provides the first evidence that homologs of the mammalian families of GPCRs, including Rhodopsin, Adhesion, Glutamate and Frizzled are present in Fungi. These findings further support the hypothesis that all main GPCR families share a common origin. Moreover, we clarified the evolutionary hierarchy by showing for the first time that Rhodopsin family members are found outside metazoan lineages. We also characterized the GPCR superfamily in two important model organisms (Amphimedon queenslandica and Saccoglossus kowalevskii) that belong to different metazoan phyla and which differ greatly in morphological characteristics. Curation of the GPCR superfamily (Paper II) in Amphimedon queenslandica (an important model to understand evolution of animal multicellularity) reveals the presence of four of the five GRAFS families and several other GPCR gene families. However, we find that the sponge GPCR subset is divergent from GPCRs in other studied bilaterian and eumetazoan lineages. Mapping of the GPCR superfamily (Paper III) in a hemichordate Saccoglossus kowalevskii (an essential model to understand the evolution of the chordate body plan) revealed the presence of all major GPCR GRAFS families. We find that S. kowalevskii encodes local expansions of peptide and somatostatin- like GPCRs. Furthermore, we delineate the overall evolutionary hierarchy of vertebrate-like G protein families (Paper IV) and provide a comparative perspective with GPCR repertoires. The study also maps the individual gene gain/loss events of G proteins across holozoans with more expanded invertebrate taxon sampling than earlier reports. In addition, Paper V describes a broad survey of nematode chemosensory GPCR families and provides insights into the evolutionary events that shaped the GPCR mediated chemosensory system in protostomes. Overall, our findings further illustrate the evolutionary hierarchy and the diversity of the major components of the G protein-coupled receptor signaling system in eukaryotes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. , 56 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 1116
Keyword [en]
GPCRs, G proteins, Sensory system, Signal transduction, Olfaction, Chemosensation, Hemichordates, Sponges, Porifera, Bilaterians, Holozoans, Fungi, Opisthokonts
National Category
Biological Sciences Evolutionary Biology Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-258956ISBN: 978-91-554-9277-9 (print)OAI: diva2:842830
Public defence
2015-09-09, C8:301, Uppsala Biomedical Centre (BMC), Husargatan 3, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Available from: 2015-08-18 Created: 2015-07-22 Last updated: 2015-09-07
List of papers
1. The Origin of GPCRs: Identification of Mammalian like Rhodopsin, Adhesion, Glutamate and Frizzled GPCRs in Fungi
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Origin of GPCRs: Identification of Mammalian like Rhodopsin, Adhesion, Glutamate and Frizzled GPCRs in Fungi
2012 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 7, no 1, e29817- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in humans are classified into the five main families named Glutamate, Rhodopsin, Adhesion, Frizzled and Secretin according to the GRAFS classification. Previous results show that these mammalian GRAFS families are well represented in the Metazoan lineages, but they have not been shown to be present in Fungi. Here, we systematically mined 79 fungal genomes and provide the first evidence that four of the five main mammalian families of GPCRs, namely Rhodopsin, Adhesion, Glutamate and Frizzled, are present in Fungi and found 142 novel sequences between them. Significantly, we provide strong evidence that the Rhodopsin family emerged from the cAMP receptor family in an event close to the split of Opisthokonts and not in Placozoa, as earlier assumed. The Rhodopsin family then expanded greatly in Metazoans while the cAMP receptor family is found in 3 invertebrate species and lost in the vertebrates. We estimate that the Adhesion and Frizzled families evolved before the split of Unikonts from a common ancestor of all major eukaryotic lineages. Also, the study highlights that the fungal Adhesion receptors do not have N-terminal domains whereas the fungal Glutamate receptors have a broad repertoire of mammalian-like N-terminal domains. Further, mining of the close unicellular relatives of the Metazoan lineage, Salpingoeca rosetta and Capsaspora owczarzaki, obtained a rich group of both the Adhesion and Glutamate families, which in particular provided insight to the early emergence of the N-terminal domains of the Adhesion family. We identified 619 Fungi specific GPCRs across 79 genomes and revealed that Blastocladiomycota and Chytridiomycota phylum have Metazoan-like GPCRs rather than the GPCRs specific for Fungi. Overall, this study provides the first evidence of the presence of four of the five main GRAFS families in Fungi and clarifies the early evolutionary history of the GPCR superfamily.

National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-172159 (URN)10.1371/journal.pone.0029817 (DOI)000301070200052 ()
Available from: 2012-04-03 Created: 2012-04-02 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
2. The GPCR repertoire in the demosponge Amphimedon queenslandica: insights into the GPCR system at the early divergence of animals
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The GPCR repertoire in the demosponge Amphimedon queenslandica: insights into the GPCR system at the early divergence of animals
Show others...
2014 (English)In: BMC Evolutionary Biology, ISSN 1471-2148, E-ISSN 1471-2148, Vol. 14Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) play a central role in eukaryotic signal transduction. However, the GPCR component of this signalling system, at the early origins of metazoans is not fully understood. Here we aim to identify and classify GPCRs in Amphimedon queenslandica (sponge), a member of an earliest diverging metazoan lineage (Porifera). Furthermore, phylogenetic comparisons of sponge GPCRs with eumetazoan and bilaterian GPCRs will be essential to our understanding of the GPCR system at the roots of metazoan evolution. Results: We present a curated list of 220 GPCRs in the sponge genome after excluding incomplete sequences and false positives from our initial dataset of 282 predicted GPCR sequences obtained using Pfam search. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that the sponge genome contains members belonging to four of the five major GRAFS families including Glutamate (33), Rhodopsin (126), Adhesion (40) and Frizzled (3). Interestingly, the sponge Rhodopsin family sequences lack orthologous relationships with those found in eumetazoan and bilaterian lineages, since they clustered separately to form sponge specific groups in the phylogenetic analysis. This suggests that sponge Rhodopsins diverged considerably from that found in other basal metazoans. A few sponge Adhesions clustered basal to Adhesion subfamilies commonly found in most vertebrates, suggesting some Adhesion subfamilies may have diverged prior to the emergence of Bilateria. Furthermore, at least eight of the sponge Adhesion members have a hormone binding motif (HRM domain) in their N-termini, although hormones have yet to be identified in sponges. We also phylogenetically clarified that sponge has homologs of metabotropic glutamate (mGluRs) and GABA receptors. Conclusion: Our phylogenetic comparisons of sponge GPCRs with other metazoan genomes suggest that sponge contains a significantly diversified set of GPCRs. This is evident at the family/subfamily level comparisons for most GPCR families, in particular for the Rhodopsin family of GPCRs. In summary, this study provides a framework to perform future experimental and comparative studies to further verify and understand the roles of GPCRs that predates the divergence of bilaterian and eumetazoan lineages.

Neurotransmitters, G protein-coupled receptors, Adhesion, Signal transduction, Porifera, Eumetazoa
National Category
Medical Genetics Biological Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-244512 (URN)10.1186/s12862-014-0270-4 (DOI)000348153900001 ()

De två första författarna delar förstaförfattarskapet.

Available from: 2015-02-17 Created: 2015-02-17 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
3. Remarkable similarities between the hemichordate (Saccoglossus kowalevskii) and vertebrate GPCR repertoire
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Remarkable similarities between the hemichordate (Saccoglossus kowalevskii) and vertebrate GPCR repertoire
2013 (English)In: Gene, ISSN 0378-1119, E-ISSN 1879-0038, Vol. 526, no 2, 122-133 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Saccoglossus kowalevskii (the acorn worm) is a hemichordate belonging to the superphylum of deuterostome bilateral animals. Hemichordates are sister group to echinoderms, and closely related to chordates. S. kowalevskii has chordate like morphological traits and serves as an important model organism, helping developmental biologists to understand the evolution of the central nervous system (CNS). Despite being such an important model organism, the signalling system repertoire of the largest family of integral transmembrane receptor proteins, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is largely unknown in S. kowalevskii. Here, we identified 260 unique GPCRs and classified as many as 257 of them into five main mammalian GPCR families; Glutamate (23), Rhodopsin (212), Adhesion (18), Frizzled (3) and Secretin (1). Despite having a diffuse nervous system, the acorn worm contains well conserved orthologues for human Adhesion and Glutamate family members, with a similar N-terminal domain architecture. This is particularly true for genes involved in CNS development and regulation in vertebrates. The average sequence identity between the GPCR orthologues in human and S. kowalevskii is around 47%, and this is same as observed in couple of the closest vertebrate relatives, Ciona intestinalis (41%) and Branchiostoma floridae (similar to 47%). The Rhodopsin family has fewer members than vertebrates and lacks clear homologues for 6 of the 13 subgroups, including olfactory, chemokine, prostaglandin, purine, melanocyte concentrating hormone receptors and MAS-related receptors. However, the peptide and somatostatin binding receptors have expanded locally in the acorn worm. Overall, this study is the first large scale analysis of a major signalling gene superfamily in the hemichordate lineage. The establishment of orthologue relationships with genes involved in neurotransmission and development of the CNS in vertebrates provides a foundation for understanding the evolution of signal transduction and allows for further investigation of the hemichordate neurobiology.

Neurotransmission, G protein, Information exchange, Deuterostomes, Nervous system
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-207491 (URN)10.1016/j.gene.2013.05.005 (DOI)000323396500009 ()
Available from: 2013-09-17 Created: 2013-09-16 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
4. Evolutionary hierarchy of vertebrate-like heterotrimeric G protein families
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evolutionary hierarchy of vertebrate-like heterotrimeric G protein families
Show others...
2015 (English)In: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, ISSN 1055-7903, E-ISSN 1095-9513, Vol. 91, 27-40 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Heterotrimeric G proteins perform a crucial role as molecular switches controlling various cellular responses mediated by G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling pathway. Recent data have shown that the vertebrate-like G protein families are found across metazoans and their closest unicellular relatives. However, an overall evolutionary hierarchy of vertebrate-like G proteins, including gene family annotations and in particular mapping individual gene gain/loss events across diverse holozoan lineages is still incomplete. Here, with more expanded invertebrate taxon sampling, we have reconstructed phylogenetic trees for each of the G protein classes/families and provide a robust classification and hierarchy of vertebrate-like heterotrimeric G proteins. Our results further extend the evidence that the common ancestor (CA) of holozoans had at least five ancestral Gα genes corresponding to all major vertebrate Gα classes and contain a total of eight genes including two Gβ and one Gγ. Our results also indicate that the GNAI/O-like gene likely duplicated in the last CA of metazoans to give rise to GNAI- and GNAO-like genes, which are conserved across invertebrates. Moreover, homologs of GNB1-4 paralogon- and GNB5 family-like genes are found in most metazoans and that the unicellular holozoans encode two ancestral Gβ genes. Similarly, most bilaterian invertebrates encode two Gγ genes which include a representative of the GNG gene cluster and a putative homolog of GNG13. Interestingly, our results also revealed key evolutionary events such as the Drosophila melanogaster eye specific Gβ subunit that is found conserved in most arthropods and several previously unidentified species specific expansions within Gαi/o, Gαs, Gαq, Gα12/13 classes and the GNB1-4 paralogon. Also, we provide an overall proposed evolutionary scenario on the expansions of all G protein families in vertebrate tetraploidizations. Our robust classification/hierarchy is essential to further understand the differential roles of GPCR/G protein mediated intracellular signaling system across various metazoan lineages.

National Category
Biological Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-258945 (URN)10.1016/j.ympev.2015.05.009 (DOI)000358270900004 ()26002831 (PubMedID)
Novo NordiskSwedish Research Council
Available from: 2015-07-22 Created: 2015-07-22 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
5. Insights into the Origin of Nematode Chemosensory GPCRs: Putative Orthologs of the Srw Family Are Found across Several Phyla of Protostomes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Insights into the Origin of Nematode Chemosensory GPCRs: Putative Orthologs of the Srw Family Are Found across Several Phyla of Protostomes
2014 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 9, no 3, e93048- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nematode chemosensory GPCRs in Caenorhabditis elegans (NemChRs) are classified into 19 gene families, and are initially thought to have split from the ancestral Rhodopsin family of GPCRs. However, earlier studies have shown that among all 19 NemChR gene families, only the srw family has a clear sequence relationship to the ancestral Rhodopsin GPCR family. Yet, the phylogenetic relationships between the srw family of NemChRs and the Rhodopsin subfamilies are not fully understood. Also, a widespread search was not previously performed to check for the presence of putative srw family-like sequences or the other 18 NemChR families in several new protostome species outside the nematode lineage. In this study, we have investigated for the presence of 19 NemChR families across 26 eukaryotic species, covering basal eukaryotic branches and provide the first evidence that the srw family of NemChRs is indeed present across several phyla of protostomes. We could identify 29 putative orthologs of the srw family in insects (15 genes), molluscs (11 genes) and Schistosoma mansoni (3 genes). Furthermore, using HMM-HMM profile based comparisons and phylogenetic analysis we show that among all Rhodopsin subfamilies, the peptide and SOG (somatostatin/opioid/galanin) subfamilies are phylogenetically the closest relatives to the srw family of NemChRs. Taken together, we demonstrate that the srw family split from the large Rhodopsin family, possibly from the peptide and/or SOG subfamilies, well before the split of the nematode lineage, somewhere close to the divergence of the common ancestor of protostomes. Our analysis also suggests that the srsx family of NemChRs shares a clear sequence homology with the Rhodopsin subfamilies, as well as with few of the vertebrate olfactory receptors. Overall, this study provides further insights into the evolutionary events that shaped the GPCR chemosensory system in protostome species.

National Category
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-224464 (URN)10.1371/journal.pone.0093048 (DOI)000333459900148 ()
Available from: 2014-05-15 Created: 2014-05-13 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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