Phylogenetic analysis of the SINA/SIAH ubiquitin E3 ligase family in Metazoa

BMC Evol Biol. 2017 Aug 7;17(1):182. doi: 10.1186/s12862-017-1024-x.


Background: The RAS signaling pathway is a pivotal developmental pathway that controls many fundamental biological processes including cell proliferation, differentiation, movement and apoptosis. Drosophila Seven-IN-Absentia (SINA) is a ubiquitin E3 ligase that is the most downstream signaling "gatekeeper" whose biological activity is essential for proper RAS signal transduction. Vertebrate SINA homologs (SIAHs) share a high degree of amino acid identity with that of Drosophila SINA. SINA/SIAH is the most conserved signaling component in the canonical EGFR/RAS/RAF/MAPK signal transduction pathway.

Results: Vertebrate SIAH1, 2, and 3 are the three orthologs to invertebrate SINA protein. SINA and SIAH1 orthologs are found in all major taxa of metazoans. These proteins have four conserved functional domains, known as RING (Really Interesting New Gene), SZF (SIAH-type zinc finger), SBS (substrate binding site) and DIMER (Dimerization). In addition to the siah1 gene, most vertebrates encode two additional siah genes (siah2 and siah3) in their genomes. Vertebrate SIAH2 has a highly divergent and extended N-terminal sequence, while its RING, SZF, SBS and DIMER domains maintain high amino acid identity/similarity to that of SIAH1. But unlike vertebrate SIAH1 and SIAH2, SIAH3 lacks a functional RING domain, suggesting that SIAH3 may be an inactive E3 ligase. The SIAH3 subtree exhibits a high degree of amino acid divergence when compared to the SIAH1 and SIAH2 subtrees. We find that SIAH1 and SIAH2 are expressed in all human epithelial cell lines examined thus far, while SIAH3 is only expressed in a limited subset of cancer cell lines.

Conclusion: Through phylogenetic analyses of metazoan SINA and SIAH E3 ligases, we identified many invariant and divergent amino acid residues, as well as the evolutionarily conserved functional motifs in this medically relevant gene family. Our phylomedicinal study of this unique metazoan SINA/SIAH protein family has provided invaluable evolution-based support towards future effort to design logical, potent, and durable anti-SIAH-based anticancer strategies against oncogenic K-RAS-driven metastatic human cancers. Thus, this method of evolutionary study should be of interest in cancer biology.

Keywords: And conserved functional domains in SINA; Invariant and divergent amino acid residues; Phylogenetic analysis; RAS signal transduction; SIAH1; SIAH2 and SIAH3; SINA/SIAH E3 ligases; Ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Consensus Sequence
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Invertebrates / enzymology
  • Multigene Family
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry
  • Nuclear Proteins / classification*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Phylogeny*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / chemistry
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / classification*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics
  • Vertebrates / metabolism


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • seven in absentia proteins