BfCBR: a cannabinoid receptor ortholog in the cephalochordate Branchiostoma floridae (Amphioxus)

Gene. 2007 Sep 1;399(1):65-71. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2007.04.025. Epub 2007 May 1.


A gene encoding an ortholog of vertebrate CB(1)/CB(2) cannabinoid receptors was recently identified in the urochordate Ciona intestinalis (CiCBR; [Elphick, M.R., Satou, Y., Satoh, N., 2003. The invertebrate ancestry of endocannabinoid signalling: an orthologue of vertebrate cannabinoid receptors in the urochordate Ciona intestinalis. Gene 302, 95-101.]). Here a cannabinoid receptor ortholog (BfCBR) has been identified in the cephalochordate Branchiostoma floridae. BfCBR is encoded by a single exon and is 410 amino acid residue protein that shares 28% sequence identity with CiCBR and 23% sequence identity with human CB(1) and human CB(2). The discovery of BfCBR and CiCBR and the absence of cannabinoid receptor orthologs in non-chordate invertebrates indicate that CB(1)/CB(2)-like cannabinoid receptors originated in an invertebrate chordate ancestor of urochordates, cephalochordates and vertebrates. Furthermore, analysis of the relationship of BfCBR and CiCBR with vertebrate CB(1) and CB(2) receptors indicates that the gene/genome duplication that gave rise to CB(1) and CB(2) receptors occurred in the vertebrate lineage. Identification of BfCBR, in addition to CiCBR, paves the way for comparative analysis of the expression and functions of these proteins in Branchiostoma and Ciona, respectively, providing an insight into the ancestral functions of cannabinoid receptors in invertebrate chordates prior to the emergence of CB(1) and CB(2) receptors in vertebrates.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chordata / genetics
  • Chordata / physiology*
  • Exons
  • Glycosylation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / classification
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein


  • Receptors, Cannabinoid