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    The molecular phylogeny of a nematode-specific clade of heterotrimeric G-protein alpha-subunit genes


    O'Halloran, Damien M. and Fitzpatrick, David A. and McCormack, Grace P. and McInerney, James O. and Burnell, Ann (2006) The molecular phylogeny of a nematode-specific clade of heterotrimeric G-protein alpha-subunit genes. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 63 (1). pp. 87-94. ISSN 0022-2844

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    Abstract

    In animal olfactory systems, odorant molecules are detected by olfactory receptors (ORs). ORs are part of the G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) superfamily. Heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide binding G-proteins (G-proteins) relay signals from GPCRs to intracellular effectors. G-proteins are comprised of three peptides. The G-protein alpha subunit confers functional specificity to G-proteins. Vertebrate and insect Galpha-subunit genes are divided into four subfamilies based on functional and sequence attributes. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans contains 21 Galpha genes, 14 of which are exclusively expressed in sensory neurons. Most individual mammalian cells express multiple distinct GPCR gene products, however, individual mammalian and insect olfactory neurons express only one functional odorant OR. By contrast C. elegans expresses multiple ORs and multiple Galpha subunits within each olfactory neuron. Here we show that, in addition to having at least one member of each of the four mammalian Galpha gene classes, C. elegans and other nematodes also possess two lineage-specific Galpha gene expansions, homologues of which are not found in any other organisms examined. We hypothesize that these novel nematode-specific Galpha genes increase the functional complexity of individual chemosensory neurons, enabling them to integrate odor signals from the multiple distinct ORs expressed on their membranes. This neuronal gene expansion most likely occurred in nematodes to enable them to compensate for the small number of chemosensory cells and the limited emphasis on cephalization during nematode evolution.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Heterotrimeric G-protein a subunit; Olfaction; Nematode; Caenorhabditis elegans; Chemoreception;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Biology
    Item ID: 7448
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00239-005-0215-z
    Depositing User: David Fitzpatrick
    Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2016 09:54
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Molecular Evolution
    Publisher: Springer Verlag
    Refereed: Yes
    Funders: Higher Education Authority (HEA)
    URI:

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