Lagman D, Callado-Pérez A, Franzén IE, Larhammar D, Abalo XM
PLoS ONE 10 (3) e0121330 [2015-03-25; online 2015-03-25]
Gene duplications provide raw materials that can be selected for functional adaptations by evolutionary mechanisms. We describe here the results of 350 million years of evolution of three functionally related gene families: the alpha, beta and gamma subunits of transducins, the G protein involved in vision. Early vertebrate tetraploidisations resulted in separate transducin heterotrimers: gnat1/gnb1/gngt1 for rods, and gnat2/gnb3/gngt2 for cones. The teleost-specific tetraploidisation generated additional duplicates for gnb1, gnb3 and gngt2. We report here that the duplicates have undergone several types of subfunctionalisation or neofunctionalisation in the zebrafish. We have found that gnb1a and gnb1b are co-expressed at different levels in rods; gnb3a and gnb3b have undergone compartmentalisation restricting gnb3b to the dorsal and medial retina, however, gnb3a expression was detected only at very low levels in both larvae and adult retina; gngt2b expression is restricted to the dorsal and medial retina, whereas gngt2a is expressed ventrally. This dorsoventral distinction could be an adaptation to protect the lower part of the retina from intense light damage. The ontogenetic analysis shows earlier onset of expression in the pineal complex than in the retina, in accordance with its earlier maturation. Additionally, gnb1a but not gnb1b is expressed in the pineal complex, and gnb3b and gngt2b are transiently expressed in the pineal during ontogeny, thus showing partial temporal subfunctionalisation. These retina-pineal distinctions presumably reflect their distinct functional roles in vision and circadian rhythmicity. In summary, this study describes several functional differences between transducin gene duplicates resulting from the teleost-specific tetraploidisation.