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Amphioxus: beginning of vertebrate and end of invertebrate type GnRH receptor lineage.

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Javier Tello, Nancy Sherwood

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In vertebrates, activation of the GnRH receptor is necessary to initiate the reproductive cascade. However, little is known about the characteristics of GnRH receptors before the vertebrates evolved. Recently genome sequencing was completed for amphioxus, Branchiostoma floridae. To understand the GnRH receptors (GnRHR) from this most basal chordate, which is also classified as an invertebrate, we cloned and characterized four GnRHR cDNAs encoded in the amphioxus genome. We found that incubation of GnRH1 (mammalian GnRH) and GnRH2 (chicken GnRH II) with COS7 cells heterologously expressing the amphioxus GnRHRs caused potent intracellular inositol phosphate turnover in two of the receptors. One of the two receptors displayed a clear preference for GnRH1 over GnRH2, a characteristic not previously seen outside the type I mammalian GnRHRs. Phylogenetic analysis grouped the four receptors into two paralogous pairs, with one pair grouping basally with the vertebrate GnRH receptors and the other grouping with the octopus GnRHR-like sequence and the related receptor for insect adipokinetic hormone. Pharmacological studies showed that octopus GnRH-like peptide and adipokinetic hormone induced potent inositol phosphate turnover in one of these other two amphioxus receptors. These data demonstrate the functional conservation of two distinct types of GnRH receptors at the base of chordates. We propose that one receptor type led to vertebrate GnRHRs, whereas the other type, related to the mollusk GnRHR-like receptor, was lost in the vertebrate lineage. This is the first report to suggest that distinct invertebrate and vertebrate GnRHRs are present simultaneously in a basal chordate, amphioxus.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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