Revisiting the Phylogeny of the Animal Formins: Two New Subtypes, Relationships with Multiple Wing Hairs Proteins, and a Lost Human Formin

PLoS One. 2016 Oct 3;11(10):e0164067. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164067. eCollection 2016.


Formins are a widespread family of eukaryotic cytoskeleton-organizing proteins. Many species encode multiple formin isoforms, and for animals, much of this reflects the presence of multiple conserved subtypes. Earlier phylogenetic analyses identified seven major formin subtypes in animals (DAAM, DIAPH, FHOD, FMN, FMNL, INF, and GRID2IP/delphilin), but left a handful of formins, particularly from nematodes, unassigned. In this new analysis drawing from genomic data from a wider range of taxa, nine formin subtypes are identified that encompass all the animal formins analyzed here. Included in this analysis are Multiple Wing Hairs proteins (MWH), which bear homology to formin N-terminal domains. Originally identified in Drosophila melanogaster and other arthropods, MWH-related proteins are also identified here in some nematodes (including Caenorhabditis elegans), and are shown to be related to a novel MWH-related formin (MWHF) subtype. One surprising result of this work is the discovery that a family of pleckstrin homology domain-containing formins (PHCFs) is represented in many vertebrates, but is strikingly absent from placental mammals. Consistent with a relatively recent loss of this formin, the human genome retains fragments of a defunct homologous formin gene.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Hair
  • Humans
  • Microfilament Proteins / chemistry
  • Microfilament Proteins / classification*
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Protein Domains / genetics
  • Wings, Animal


  • Microfilament Proteins