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      The evolutionary history of the stearoyl-CoA desaturase gene family in vertebrates

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          Stearoyl-CoA desaturases (SCDs) are key enzymes involved in de novo monounsaturated fatty acid synthesis. They catalyze the desaturation of saturated fatty acyl-CoA substrates at the delta-9 position, generating essential components of phospholipids, triglycerides, cholesterol esters and wax esters. Despite being crucial for interpreting SCDs roles across species, the evolutionary history of the SCD gene family in vertebrates has yet to be elucidated, in particular their isoform diversity, origin and function. This work aims to contribute to this fundamental effort.


          We show here, through comparative genomics and phylogenetics that the SCD gene family underwent an unexpectedly complex history of duplication and loss events. Paralogy analysis hints that SCD1 and SCD5 genes emerged as part of the whole genome duplications (2R) that occurred at the stem of the vertebrate lineage. The SCD1 gene family expanded in rodents with the parallel loss of SCD5 in the Muridae family. The SCD1 gene expansion is also observed in the Lagomorpha although without the SCD5 loss. In the amphibian Xenopus tropicalis we find a single SCD1 gene but not SCD5, though this could be due to genome incompleteness. In the analysed teleost species no SCD5 is found, while the surrounding SCD5-less locus is conserved in comparison to tetrapods. In addition, the teleost SCD1 gene repertoire expanded to two copies as a result of the teleost specific genome duplication (3R). Finally, we describe clear orthologues of SCD1 and SCD5 in the chondrichthian, Scyliorhinus canicula, a representative of the oldest extant jawed vertebrate clade. Expression analysis in S. canicula shows that whilst SCD1 is ubiquitous, SCD5 is mainly expressed in the brain, a pattern which might indicate an evolutionary conserved function.


          We conclude that the SCD1 and SCD5 genes emerged as part of the 2R genome duplications. We propose that the evolutionary conserved gene expression between distinct lineages underpins the importance of SCD activity in the brain (and probably the pancreas), in a yet to be defined role. We argue that an expression independent of an external stimulus, such as diet induced activity, emerged as a novel function in vertebrate ancestry allocated to the SCD5 isoform in various tissues (e.g. brain and pancreas), and it was selectively maintained throughout vertebrate evolution.

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          Most cited references 37

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          TreeView: an application to display phylogenetic trees on personal computers.

           Roderic Page (1996)
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            ProtTest: selection of best-fit models of protein evolution.

            Using an appropriate model of amino acid replacement is very important for the study of protein evolution and phylogenetic inference. We have built a tool for the selection of the best-fit model of evolution, among a set of candidate models, for a given protein sequence alignment. ProtTest is available under the GNU license from http://darwin.uvigo.es
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              The amphioxus genome and the evolution of the chordate karyotype.

              Lancelets ('amphioxus') are the modern survivors of an ancient chordate lineage, with a fossil record dating back to the Cambrian period. Here we describe the structure and gene content of the highly polymorphic approximately 520-megabase genome of the Florida lancelet Branchiostoma floridae, and analyse it in the context of chordate evolution. Whole-genome comparisons illuminate the murky relationships among the three chordate groups (tunicates, lancelets and vertebrates), and allow not only reconstruction of the gene complement of the last common chordate ancestor but also partial reconstruction of its genomic organization, as well as a description of two genome-wide duplications and subsequent reorganizations in the vertebrate lineage. These genome-scale events shaped the vertebrate genome and provided additional genetic variation for exploitation during vertebrate evolution.

                Author and article information

                BMC Evol Biol
                BMC Evolutionary Biology
                BioMed Central
                19 May 2011
                : 11
                : 132
                [1 ]Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR), CIMAR Associate Laboratory, University of Porto (U.Porto), Portugal
                [2 ]Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS), University of Porto (U.Porto), Portugal
                Copyright ©2011 Castro et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Evolutionary Biology


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