The reelin gene is conserved across many vertebrate species, including humans. The protein product of this gene plays several important roles in early brain development and regulation of neural network plasticity of a matured brain structure. With an extended structure of 3461 amino acid sequences, consisting of eight reelin repeats, the human reelin sequence stands out as an exceptional model for evolutionary studies. In this study, sequence analysis of the human reelin and its homologues and reelin sequences from 104 other species is described in detail. Interesting sequence conservation patterns of individual repeats have been highlighted. Sequence phylogeny of the reelin sequences indicates a pattern similar to the evolution of the species, thereby serving as a highly conserved family for evolutionary purposes. Multiple sequence alignment of different reelin domain repeats, derived from homologues, suggests specific functions for individual repeats and high sequence conservation across reelin repeats from different organisms, albeit with few unusual domain architectures. A three-dimensional structural model of the full-length human reelin is now available that provides clues on residues at the dimer interface.
Keywords: 3D modeling; domain architecture; domain repeats; glycoprotein; neurogenesis; phylogeny; reelin protein.