We obtained two channel catfish estrogen receptor (ccER) cDNA from liver of female fish using RT-PCR. The two fragments were identical in sequence except that the smaller one had an out-of-frame deletion in the E domain, suggesting the existence of ccER splice variants. The larger fragment was used to screen a cDNA library from liver of a prepubescent female. A cDNA was obtained that encoded a 581-amino-acid ER with a deduced molecular weight of 63.8 kDa. Extracts of COS-7 cells transfected with ccER cDNA bound estrogen with high affinity (Kd = 4.7 nM) and specificity. Maximum parsimony and Neighbor Joining analyses were used to generate a phylogenetic classification of ccER on the basis of 18 full-length ER sequences. The tree suggested the existence of two major ER branches. One branch contained two clearly divergent clades which included all piscine ER (except Japanese eel ER) and all tetrapod ERalpha, respectively. The second major branch contained the eel ER and the mammalian ERbeta. The high degree of divergence between the eel ER and mammalian ERbeta suggested that they also represent distinct piscine and tetrapod ER. These data suggest that ERalpha and ERbeta are present throughout vertebrates and that these two major ER types evolved by duplication of an ancestral ER gene. Sequence alignments with other members of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily indicated the presence of 8 amino acids in the E domain that align exclusively among ER. Four of these amino acids have not received prior research attention and their function is unknown. The novel finding of putative ER splice variants in a nonmammalian vertebrate and the novel phylogenetic classification of ER offer new perspectives in understanding the diversification and function of ER.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.