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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Evolution of the thyrotropin receptor: a G protein coupled receptor with an intrinsic capacity to dimerize.

The rapidly escalating number of genome sequences has emphasized the basic tenants of the schema of life. By the same token comparisons according to specialized function or niche within nature expose genomic strategies to optimize the use of resources and ensure biological success. Increasing complexity may result from diversification, shuffling, and re-arrangement of an otherwise limited functional genomic complement. To further test the concept of relative structural plasticity of the TSH receptor we sequenced the TSHR gene of two Old World monkey species Macaca mulatta and Cercopithecus aethiops, evolutionary removed from Homo sapiens by >20Myr. Both genes encoded a protein of 764 residues. This structure was 99% homologous between the two species of Old World monkeys while C. aethiops was 97% and M. mulatta was 96% homologous to H. sapiens. TSHR sequence comparisons were sought for an additional eight mammals as well as four (two Salmon, Tilapia, and Sea Bass) from teleosts. The amino-acid sequences of the 14 TSH receptors were similar. The most variable sequences were those of the intracellular tail and the distal cysteine-rich C-terminus flanking region of the ectodomain, whereas the trans-membrane domain was most preserved. Some sequences were decidedly H. sapiens specific, while others were primate specific or showed the changes expected of evolutionary descent. Others, however, exhibited "cross-species polymorphism," sometimes at quite remarkable evolutionary distances. As opposed to H. sapiens the sequence differences may have subtle influences on TSHR function or may affect long-range compensation for radical changes in adducts. The two Old World monkeys share with other lower mammals the absence of a glycosylation site at 113-115. Sea Bass and Tilapia have four glycosylation sites, whereas the two salmon receptors have only three. Changes in some critical residues raise questions about variation in function: thus S281 is conserved in all mammals and an important determinant of negative agonist function of TSHR is replaced by R in Sea Bass. Likewise the K183, found at an important transitional region at LRR 6 conserved in all mammals, is represented by M in fish and may contribute to TSHR lutenization in fish. There is no evidence that evolutionary changes in primate receptors are more rapid than that in other mammals and the separation times of different mammals based on silent nucleotide changes of TSHR are closely parallel to archaeological estimates. Results of correlated mutation analysis, referenced to the rhodopsin crystal structure, affirms dimerization of TSHR transmembrane helices. In addition, it suggests the involvement of critical lipid-facing residues in the helices in receptor dimerization and oligomerization. We highlight the value of evolutionary informatics and set the stage for dissecting out potential subtle differences in TSHR function associated with structural variations.[1]


  1. Evolution of the thyrotropin receptor: a G protein coupled receptor with an intrinsic capacity to dimerize. Kaczur, V., Puskás, L.G., Takács, M., Rácz, I.A., Szendroi, A., Tóth, S., Nagy, Z., Szalai, C., Balázs, C., Falus, A., Knudsen, B., Farid, N.R. Mol. Genet. Metab. (2003) [Pubmed]
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