Uncovering how a new gene acquires its function and understanding how the function of a new gene influences existing genetic networks are important topics in evolutionary biology. Here, we demonstrate nonconservation for the embryonic functions of Drosophila Bonus and its newest vertebrate relative TIF1-γ/TRIM33. We showed previously that TIF1-γ/TRIM33 functions as an ubiquitin ligase for the Smad4 signal transducer and antagonizes the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signaling network underlying vertebrate dorsal-ventral axis formation. Here, we show that Bonus functions as an agonist of the Decapentaplegic (Dpp) signaling network underlying dorsal-ventral axis formation in flies. The absence of conservation for the roles of Bonus and TIF1-γ/TRIM33 reveals a shift in the dorsal-ventral patterning networks of flies and mice, systems that were previously considered wholly conserved. The shift occurred when the new gene TIF1-γ/TRIM33 replaced the function of the ubiquitin ligase Nedd4L in the lineage leading to vertebrates. Evidence of this replacement is our demonstration that Nedd4 performs the function of TIF1-γ/TRIM33 in flies during dorsal-ventral axis formation. The replacement allowed vertebrate Nedd4L to acquire novel functions as a ubiquitin ligase of vertebrate-specific Smad proteins. Overall our data reveal that the architecture of the Dpp/BMP dorsal-ventral patterning network continued to evolve in the vertebrate lineage, after separation from flies, via the incorporation of new genes.
Keywords: Bonus/TIF1/TRIM; Dorsal/NF-κB; Dpp/BMP/TGF-β; Drosophila; dorsal–ventral axis; embryonic development.
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