Molecular evolution of the keratin associated protein gene family in mammals, role in the evolution of mammalian hair.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Hair is unique to mammals. Keratin associated proteins (KRTAPs), which contain two major groups: high/ultrahigh cysteine and high glycine-tyrosine, are one of the major components of hair and play essential roles in the formation of rigid and resistant hair shafts. RESULTS: The KRTAP family was identified as being unique to mammals, and near-complete KRTAP gene repertoires for eight mammalian genomes were characterized in this study. An expanded KRTAP gene repertoire was found in rodents. Surprisingly, humans have a similar number of genes as other primates despite the relative hairlessness of humans. We identified several new subfamilies not previously reported in the high/ultrahigh cysteine KRTAP genes. Genes in many subfamilies of the high/ultrahigh cysteine KRTAP genes have evolved by concerted evolution with frequent gene conversion events, yielding a higher GC base content for these gene sequences. In contrast, the high glycine-tyrosine KRTAP genes have evolved more dynamically, with fewer gene conversion events and thus have a lower GC base content, possibly due to positive selection. CONCLUSION: Most of the subfamilies emerged early in the evolution of mammals, thus we propose that the mammalian ancestor should have a diverse KRTAP gene repertoire. We propose that hair content characteristics have evolved and diverged rapidly among mammals because of rapid divergent evolution of KRTAPs between species. In contrast, subfamilies of KRTAP genes have been homogenized within each species due to concerted evolution.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Adaptation of mammals to terrestrial life was facilitated by the unique vertebrate trait of body hair, which occurs in a range of morphological patterns. Keratin associated proteins (KRTAPs), the major structural hair shaft proteins, are largely responsible for hair variation.<h4>Results</h4>We exhaustively characterized the KRTAP gene family in 22 mammalian genomes, confirming the existence of 30 KRTAP subfamilies evolving at different rates with varying degrees of diversification and homogenization. Within the two major classes of KRTAPs, the high cysteine (HS) subfamily experienced strong concerted evolution, high rates of gene conversion/recombination and high GC content. In contrast, high glycine-tyrosine (HGT) KRTAPs showed evidence of positive selection and low rates of gene conversion/recombination. Species with more hair and of higher complexity tended to have more KRATP genes (gene expansion). The sloth, with long and coarse hair, had the most KRTAP genes (175 with 141 being intact). By contrast, the "hairless" dolphin had 35 KRTAPs and the highest pseudogenization rate (74% relative to the 19% mammalian average). Unique hair-related phenotypes, such as scales (armadillo) and spines (hedgehog), were correlated with changes in KRTAPs. Gene expression variation probably also influences hair diversification patterns, for example human have an identical KRTAP repertoire as apes, but much less hair.<h4>Conclusions</h4>We hypothesize that differences in KRTAP gene repertoire and gene expression, together with distinct rates of gene conversion/recombination, pseudogenization and positive selection, are likely responsible for micro and macro-phenotypic hair diversification among mammals in response to adaptations to ecological pressures.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Feathers and hair consist of cornified epidermal keratinocytes in which proteins are crosslinked via disulfide bonds between cysteine residues of structural proteins to establish mechanical resilience. Cysteine-rich keratin-associated proteins (KRTAPs) are important components of hair whereas the molecular components of feathers have remained incompletely known. Recently, we have identified a chicken gene, named epidermal differentiation cysteine-rich protein (EDCRP), that encodes a protein with a cysteine content of 36%. Here we have investigated the putative role of EDCRP in the molecular architecture and evolution of feathers. RESULTS: Comparative genomics showed that the presence of an EDCRP gene and the high cysteine content of the encoded proteins are conserved among birds. Avian EDCRPs contain a species-specific number of sequence repeats with the consensus sequence CCDPCQ(K/Q)(S/P)V, thus resembling mammalian cysteine-rich KRTAPs which also contain sequence repeats of similar sequence. However, differences in gene loci and exon-intron structures suggest that EDCRP and KRTAPs have not evolved from a common gene ancestor but represent the products of convergent sequence evolution. mRNA in situ hybridization demonstrated that chicken EDCRP is expressed in the subperiderm layer of the embryonic epidermis and in the barbule cells of growing feathers. This expression pattern supports the hypothesis that feathers are evolutionarily derived from the subperiderm. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that convergent sequence evolution of avian EDCRP and mammalian KRTAPs has contributed to independent evolution of feathers and hair, respectively.
Project description:Terrestrial vertebrates have evolved hard skin appendages, such as scales, claws, feathers, and hair that play crucial roles in defense, predation, locomotion, and thermal insulation. The mechanical properties of these skin appendages are largely determined by cornified epithelial components. So-called "hair keratins," cysteine-rich intermediate filament proteins that undergo covalent cross-linking via disulfide bonds, are the crucial structural proteins of hair and claws in mammals and hair keratin orthologs are also present in lizard claws, indicating an evolutionary origin in a hairless common ancestor of amniotes. Here, we show that reptiles and birds have also other cysteine-rich keratins which lack cysteine-rich orthologs in mammals. In addition to hard acidic (type I) sauropsid-specific (HAS) keratins, we identified hard basic (type II) sauropsid-specific (HBS) keratins which are conserved in lepidosaurs, turtles, crocodilians, and birds. Immunohistochemical analysis with a newly made antibody revealed expression of chicken HBS1 keratin in the cornifying epithelial cells of feathers. Molecular phylogenetics suggested that the high cysteine contents of HAS and HBS keratins evolved independently from the cysteine-rich sequences of hair keratin orthologs, thus representing products of convergent evolution. In conclusion, we propose an evolutionary model in which HAS and HBS keratins evolved as structural proteins in epithelial cornification of reptiles and at least one HBS keratin was co-opted as a component of feathers after the evolutionary divergence of birds from reptiles. Thus, cytoskeletal proteins of hair and feathers are products of convergent evolution and evolutionary co-option to similar biomechanical functions in clade-specific hard skin appendages.
Project description:The appearance of hair is one of the main evolutionary innovations in the amniote lineage leading to mammals. The main components of mammalian hair are cysteine-rich type I and type II keratins, also known as hard alpha-keratins or "hair keratins." To determine the evolutionary history of these important structural proteins, we compared the genomic loci of the human hair keratin genes with the homologous loci of the chicken and of the green anole lizard Anolis carolinenis. The genome of the chicken contained one type II hair keratin-like gene, and the lizard genome contained two type I and four type II hair keratin-like genes. Orthology of the latter genes and mammalian hair keratins was supported by gene locus synteny, conserved exon-intron organization, and amino acid sequence similarity of the encoded proteins. The lizard hair keratin-like genes were expressed most strongly in the digits, indicating a role in claw formation. In addition, we identified a novel group of reptilian cysteine-rich type I keratins that lack homologues in mammals. Our data show that cysteine-rich alpha-keratins are not restricted to mammals and suggest that the evolution of mammalian hair involved the co-option of pre-existing structural proteins.
Project description:Selenium is an essential trace element in mammals due to its presence in proteins in the form of selenocysteine (Sec). Human genome codes for 25 Sec-containing protein genes, and mouse and rat genomes for 24.We characterized the selenoproteomes of 44 sequenced vertebrates by applying gene prediction and phylogenetic reconstruction methods, supplemented with the analyses of gene structures, alternative splicing isoforms, untranslated regions, SECIS elements, and pseudogenes. In total, we detected 45 selenoprotein subfamilies. 28 of them were found in mammals, and 41 in bony fishes. We define the ancestral vertebrate (28 proteins) and mammalian (25 proteins) selenoproteomes, and describe how they evolved along lineages through gene duplication (20 events), gene loss (10 events) and replacement of Sec with cysteine (12 events). We show that an intronless selenophosphate synthetase 2 gene evolved in early mammals and replaced functionally the original multiexon gene in placental mammals, whereas both genes remain in marsupials. Mammalian thioredoxin reductase 1 and thioredoxin-glutathione reductase evolved from an ancestral glutaredoxin-domain containing enzyme, still present in fish. Selenoprotein V and GPx6 evolved specifically in placental mammals from duplications of SelW and GPx3, respectively, and GPx6 lost Sec several times independently. Bony fishes were characterized by duplications of several selenoprotein families (GPx1, GPx3, GPx4, Dio3, MsrB1, SelJ, SelO, SelT, SelU1, and SelW2). Finally, we report identification of new isoforms for several selenoproteins and describe unusually conserved selenoprotein pseudogenes.This analysis represents the first comprehensive survey of the vertebrate and mammal selenoproteomes, and depicts their evolution along lineages. It also provides a wealth of information on these selenoproteins and their forms.
Project description:Keratin-associated proteins (KAPs) are a diverse group of proteins and form a matrix that cross-links keratin intermediate filaments in hair and wool fibres. From over 100 KAP genes (KRTAPs) identified in mammalian species, KRTAP25-1 is a high sulphur (HS)-KAP gene, which has recently been described in humans. Here, we report the absence of KRTAP25-1 in sheep, and describe a new HS-KRTAP (named KRTAP28-1) in the chromosome region where KRTAP25-1 was expected to be found. Six variants (A-F) of KRTAP28-1 containing eight single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and a TG repeat polymorphism were detected. One was positioned 30 bp upstream of the transcription start codon and all the others were non-synonymous SNPs, including a nonsense SNP. The TG repeat polymorphism would lead to a reading frame shift at the carboxyl-terminal end. The effect of KRTAP28-1 on wool traits was investigated with 383 Southdown × Merino-cross lambs from seven sire lines. Of the four genotypes with a frequency of over 5%, lambs of genotypes AB and BD produced wool of a smaller MFD than lambs of genotype BC. This shows that KRTAP28-1 is associated with wool fibre diameter, and that variation in this gene might have potential for use as a gene marker for reducing wool fibre diameter.
Project description:The evolution of reptiles, birds, and mammals was associated with the origin of unique integumentary structures. Studies on lizards, chicken, and humans have suggested that the evolution of major structural proteins of the outermost, cornified layers of the epidermis was driven by the diversification of a gene cluster called Epidermal Differentiation Complex (EDC). Turtles have evolved unique defense mechanisms that depend on mechanically resilient modifications of the epidermis. To investigate whether the evolution of the integument in these reptiles was associated with specific adaptations of the sequences and expression patterns of EDC-related genes, we utilized newly available genome sequences to determine the epidermal differentiation gene complement of turtles. The EDC of the western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) comprises more than 100 genes, including at least 48 genes that encode proteins referred to as beta-keratins or corneous beta-proteins. Several EDC proteins have evolved cysteine/proline contents beyond 50% of total amino acid residues. Comparative genomics suggests that distinct subfamilies of EDC genes have been expanded and partly translocated to loci outside of the EDC in turtles. Gene expression analysis in the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) showed that EDC genes are differentially expressed in the skin of the various body sites and that a subset of beta-keratin genes within the EDC as well as those located outside of the EDC are expressed predominantly in the shell. Our findings give strong support to the hypothesis that the evolutionary innovation of the turtle shell involved specific molecular adaptations of epidermal differentiation.
Project description:Bats are the only mammals that use highly developed laryngeal echolocation, a sensory mechanism based on the ability to emit laryngeal sounds and interpret the returning echoes to identify objects. Although this capability allows bats to orientate and hunt in complete darkness, endowing them with great survival advantages, the genetic bases underlying the evolution of bat echolocation are still largely unknown. Echolocation requires high-frequency hearing that in mammals is largely dependent on somatic electromotility of outer hair cells. Then, understanding the molecular evolution of outer hair cell genes might help to unravel the evolutionary history of echolocation. In this work, we analyzed the molecular evolution of two key outer hair cell genes: the voltage-gated potassium channel gene KCNQ4 and CHRNA10, the gene encoding the ?10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit. We reconstructed the phylogeny of bats based on KCNQ4 and CHRNA10 protein and nucleotide sequences. A phylogenetic tree built using KCNQ4 amino acid sequences showed that two paraphyletic clades of laryngeal echolocating bats grouped together, with eight shared substitutions among particular lineages. In addition, our analyses indicated that two of these parallel substitutions, M388I and P406S, were probably fixed under positive selection and could have had a strong functional impact on KCNQ4. Moreover, our results indicated that KCNQ4 evolved under positive selection in the ancestral lineage leading to mammals, suggesting that this gene might have been important for the evolution of mammalian hearing. On the other hand, we found that CHRNA10, a gene that evolved adaptively in the mammalian lineage, was under strong purifying selection in bats. Thus, the CHRNA10 amino acid tree did not show echolocating bat monophyly and reproduced the bat species tree. These results suggest that only a subset of hearing genes could underlie the evolution of echolocation. The present work continues to delineate the genetic bases of echolocation and ultrasonic hearing in bats.
Project description:Spines, or modified hairs, have evolved multiple times in mammals, particularly in rodents. In this study, we investigated the evolution of spines in six rodent families. We first measured and compared the morphology and physical properties of hairs between paired spiny and non-spiny sister lineages. We found two distinct hair morphologies had evolved repeatedly in spiny rodents: hairs with a grooved cross-section and a second near cylindrical form. Compared to the ancestral elliptical-shaped hairs, spiny hairs had higher tension and stiffness, and overall, hairs with similar morphology had similar functional properties. To examine the genetic basis of this convergent evolution, we tested whether a single amino acid change (V370A) in the Ectodysplasin A receptor (Edar) gene is associated with spiny hair, as this substitution causes thicker and straighter hair in East Asian human populations. We found that most mammals have the common amino acid valine at position 370, but two species, the kangaroo rat (non-spiny) and spiny pocket mouse (spiny), have an isoleucine. Importantly, none of the variants we identified are associated with differences in rodent hair morphology. Thus, the specific Edar mutation associated with variation in human hair does not seem to play a role in modifying hairs in wild rodents, suggesting that different mutations in Edar and/or other genes are responsible for variation in the spiny hair phenotypes we observed within rodents.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Hair is one of the main distinguishing characteristics of mammals and it has many important biological functions. Cetaceans originated from terrestrial mammals and they have evolved a series of adaptations to aquatic environments, which are of evolutionary significance. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying their aquatic adaptations have not been well explored. This study provided insights into the evolution of hair loss during the transition from land to water by investigating and comparing two essential regulators of hair follicle development and hair follicle cycling, i.e., the Hairless (Hr) and FGF5 genes, in representative cetaceans and their terrestrial relatives. RESULTS: The full open reading frame sequences of the Hr and FGF5 genes were characterized in seven cetaceans. The sequence characteristics and evolutionary analyses suggested the functional loss of the Hr gene in cetaceans, which supports the loss of hair during their full adaptation to aquatic habitats. By contrast, positive selection for the FGF5 gene was found in cetaceans where a series of positively selected amino acid residues were identified. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to investigate the molecular basis of the hair loss in cetaceans. Our investigation of Hr and FGF5, two indispensable regulators of the hair cycle, provide some new insights into the molecular basis of hair loss in cetaceans. The results suggest that positive selection for the FGF5 gene might have promoted the termination of hair growth and early entry into the catagen stage of hair follicle cycling. Consequently, the hair follicle cycle was disrupted and the hair was lost completely due to the loss of the Hr gene function in cetaceans. This suggests that cetaceans have evolved an effective and complex mechanism for hair loss.