Bachelor of Science, Wuhan University (2004)
Doctor of Philosophy, Chinese Academy Of Sciences (2010)
Mammalian LGR4, 5 and 6 are seven-transmembrane receptors that are important for diverse physiological processes. These receptors are orthologous to DLGR2, a Drosophila receptor activated by the burs/pburs heterodimer important for morphogenesis. Although recent studies indicated that four R-spondin proteins are cognate ligands for LGR4, 5 and 6 receptors, several BMP antagonists in vertebrates have been postulated to be orthologous to burs and pburs. Using newly available genome sequences, we showed that norrin is a vertebrate ortholog for insect burs and pburs and stimulates Wnt signaling mediated by LGR4, but not by LGR5 and 6, in mammalian cells. Although norrin could only activate LGR4, binding studies suggested interactions between norrin and LGR4, 5 and 6. Norrin, the Norrie disease gene product, is also capable of activating Wnt signaling mediated by the Frizzled4 receptor and serves as a BMP antagonist. Mutagenesis studies indicated that different norrin mutations found in patients with Norrie disease can be categorized into subgroups according to defects for signaling through the three distinct binding proteins. Thus, norrin is a rare ligand capable of binding three receptors/binding proteins that are important for BMP and Wnt signaling pathways.
View details for DOI 10.1242/jcs.123471
View details for Web of Science ID 000319561700017
View details for PubMedID 23444378
Alternative splicing of genes generates novel mRNAs, leading to the evolution of new functional proteins. Cholecystokinin (CCK) induces the release of pancreatic enzymes and the contraction of the gallbladder to promote the digestion of fat and proteins. CCK activates two G-protein-coupled receptors, CCKA and CCKB. Here, we showed that a CCKsv (splicing variant), originated de novo during Catarrhini evolution by including a portion of intronic sequence of the CCK gene, encodes novel C-terminal peptide sequence followed by a new poly-adenylation signal. CCKsv is expressed in many human tissues and likely a secreted peptide retaining the original signal peptide and the N-terminal proteolytic processing signal, together with novel C-terminal sequences. Although CCKsv cannot activate CCK receptors, it partially inhibits the CRE- or SRF-driven reporter activities stimulated by wide type CCK-8 mediated by both CCK receptors. Co-treatment with CCKsv also partially antagonizes Ewing tumor cell growth stimulated by CCK-8. Our study provides an example of new peptide hormone antagonist evolution in primates.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0064610
View details for PubMedID 23724068
The evolutionary model escape from adaptive conflict (EAC) posits that adaptive conflict between the old and an emerging new function within a single gene could drive the fixation of gene duplication, where each duplicate can freely optimize one of the functions. Although EAC has been suggested as a common process in functional evolution, definitive cases of neofunctionalization under EAC are lacking, and the molecular mechanisms leading to functional innovation are not well-understood. We report here clear experimental evidence for EAC-driven evolution of type III antifreeze protein gene from an old sialic acid synthase (SAS) gene in an Antarctic zoarcid fish. We found that an SAS gene, having both sialic acid synthase and rudimentary ice-binding activities, became duplicated. In one duplicate, the N-terminal SAS domain was deleted and replaced with a nascent signal peptide, removing pleiotropic structural conflict between SAS and ice-binding functions and allowing rapid optimization of the C-terminal domain to become a secreted protein capable of noncolligative freezing-point depression. This study reveals how minor functionalities in an old gene can be transformed into a distinct survival protein and provides insights into how gene duplicates facing presumed identical selection and mutation pressures at birth could take divergent evolutionary paths.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1007883107
View details for Web of Science ID 000285521500068
View details for PubMedID 21115821