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

The novel flightless-I gene brings together two gene families, actin-binding proteins related to gelsolin and leucine-rich-repeat proteins involved in Ras signal transduction.

The Drosophila melanogaster gene flightless-I, involved in gastrulation and muscle degeneration, has Caenorhabditis elegans and human homologues. In these highly conserved genes, two previously known gene families have been brought together, families encoding the actin-binding proteins related to gelsolin and the leucine-rich-repeat (LRR) group of proteins involved in protein-protein interactions. Both these gene families exhibit characteristics of molecular changes involving replication slippage and exon shuffling. Phylogenetic analyses of 19 amino acid sequences of 6 related protein types indicate that actin- associated proteins related to gelsolin are monophyletic to a common ancestor and include flightless proteins. Conversely, comparison of 24 amino acid sequences of LRR proteins including the flightless proteins indicates that flightless proteins are members of a structurally related subgroup. Included in the flightless cluster are human and mouse rsp-1 proteins involved in suppressing v-Ras transformation of cells and the membrane-associated yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisae) adenylate cyclase whose analogous LRRs are required for interaction with Ras proteins. There is a strong possibility that ligands for this group could be related and that flightless may have a similar role in Ras signal transduction. It is hypothesized that an ancestral monomeric gelsolin precursor protein has undergone at least four independent gene reorganization events to account for the structural diversity of the extant family of gelsolin-related proteins and that gene duplication and exon shuffling events occurred prior to or at the beginning of multicellular life, resulting in the evolution of some members of the family soon after the appearance of actin-type proteins.[1]


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