Adaptive evolution of formyl peptide receptors in mammals

J Mol Evol. 2015 Feb;80(2):130-41. doi: 10.1007/s00239-015-9666-z. Epub 2015 Jan 28.


The formyl peptide receptors (FPRs) are a family of chemoattractant receptors with important roles in host defense and the regulation of inflammatory reactions. In humans, three FPR paralogs have been identified (FPR1, FPR2, and FPR3) and may have functionally diversified by gene duplication and adaptive evolution. However, the evolutionary mechanisms operating in the diversification of FPR family genes and the changes in selection pressures have not been characterized to date. Here, we have made a comprehensive evolutionary analysis of FPR genes from mammalian species. Phylogenetic analysis showed that an early duplication was responsible for FPR1 and FPR2/FPR3 splitting, and FPR3 originated from the latest duplication event near the origin of primates. Codon-based tests of positive selection reveal interesting patterns in FPR1 and FPR2 versus FPR3, with the first two genes showing clear evidence of positive selection at some sites while the majority of them evolve under strong negative selection. In contrast, our results suggest that the selective pressure may be relaxed in the FPR3 lineage. Of the six amino acid sites inferred to evolve under positive selection in FPR1 and FPR2, four sites were located in extracellular loops of the protein. The electrostatic potential of the extracellular surface of FPR might be affected more frequently with amino acid substitutions in positively selected sites. Thus, positive selection of FPRs among mammals may reflect a link between changes in the sequence and surface structure of the proteins and is likely to be important in the host's defense against invading pathogens.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Formyl Peptide / chemistry
  • Receptors, Formyl Peptide / genetics*


  • Receptors, Formyl Peptide