Study of the ancient lineage of jawless vertebrates is key to understanding the origins of vertebrate biology. The establishment of the neuroendocrine system with the hypothalamic-pituitary axis at its crux is of particular interest. Key neuroendocrine hormones in this system include the pivotal gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRHs) responsible for controlling reproduction via the pituitary. Previous data incorporating several lines of evidence showed all known vertebrate GnRHs were grouped into four paralogous lineages: GnRH1, 2, 3 and 4; with proposed evolutionary paths. Using the currently available lamprey genome assembly, we searched genes of the neuroendocrine system and summarize here the details representing the state of the current lamprey genome assembly. Additionally, we have analyzed in greater detail the evolutionary history of the GnRHs based on the information of the genomic neighborhood of the paralogs in lamprey as compared to other gnathostomes. Significantly, the current evidence suggests that two genome duplication events (both 1R and 2R) that generated the different fish and tetrapod paralogs took place before the divergence of the ancestral agnathans and gnathostome lineages. Syntenic analysis supports this evidence in that the previously-classified type IV GnRHs in lamprey (lGnRH-I and -III) share a common ancestry with GnRH2 and 3, and thus are no longer considered type IV GnRHs. Given the single amino acid difference between lGnRH-II and GnRH2 we propose that a GnRH2-like gene existed before the lamprey/gnathostome split giving rise to lGnRH-II and GnRH2. Furthermore, paralogous type 3 genes (lGnRH-I/III and GnRH3) evolved divergent structure/function in lamprey and gnathostome lineages.
Keywords: 1R; 1st round WGD; 2R; 2nd round of WGD; 3R; Agnathans; Evolution; GnRHs; Gnathostomes; NPY; Orthologs; Paralogs; Phylogenetics; WGD; base pair; bp; gonadotropin-releasing hormones; kb; kilobase; lGnRH; lamprey GnRH; neuropeptide Y; teleost-specific 3rd round of WGD; whole genome duplication.
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