Ambulacrarian insulin-related peptides and their putative receptors suggest how insulin and similar peptides may have evolved from Insulin-like Growth Factor

Jan A. Veenstra
. 2021-04-16; :
DOI: 10.1101/2021.04.15.440029

AbstractBackgroundSome Insulin/IGF-related peptides (irps) stimulate a receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) that transfers the extracellular hormonal signal into an intracellular response. Other irps, such as relaxin, do not use an RTK, but a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR). This is unusual since evolutionarily related hormones typically either use the same or paralogous receptors. In arthropods three different irps, i.e. arthropod IGF, gonadulin and Drosophila insulin-like peptide 7 (dilp7), likely evolved from a gene triplication, as in several species genes encoding these three peptides are located next to one another on the same chromosomal fragment. These arthropod irps have homologs in vertebrates, which suggests that the initial gene triplication was perhaps already present in the last common ancestor of deuterostomes and protostomes. It would be interesting to know whether this is indeed so and how insulin might be related to this trio of irps.MethodologyGenes encoding irps as well as their putative receptors were identified in genomes and transcriptomes from echinoderms and hemichordates.ResultsA similar triplet of genes coding for irps is also found in some ambulacrarians. Two of these are orthologs of arthropod IGF and dilp7 and the third is likely a gonadulin ortholog. In echinoderms two novel irps emerged, gonad stimulating substance (GSS) and multinsulin, likely from gene duplications of the IGF and dilp7-like genes respectively. The structures of GSS diverged considerably from IGF, which would suggest they use different receptors than IGF, but no novel irp receptors evolved. If IGF and GSS use different receptors and the evolution of GSS from a gene duplication of IGF is not associated with the appearance of a novel receptor while irps are known to use two different types of receptors, it seems to suggest that the ancestor of GSS and IGF might have acted on both types of receptors while one or both of its descendants act on only one. There are three ambulacrarian GPCRs that have amino acid sequences suggestive of being irp GPCRs, two of these are orthologs of the gonadulin and dilp7 receptors. This suggests that the third might be an IGF receptor, and that by deduction GSS only acts on the RTK. The evolution of GSS from IGF may represent a pattern, where IGF gene duplications lead to novel genes coding for shorter peptides that activate an RTK. It is likely this is how insulin and the insect neuroendocrine irps evolved independently from IGF.ConclusionThe local gene triplication described from arthropods that yielded three genes encoding irps was already present in the last common ancestor of protostomes and deuterostomes. It seems plausible that irps, such as those produced by neuroendocrine cells in the brain of insects and echinoderm GSS evolved independently from IGF and thus are not true orthologs, but the result of convergent evolution.

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus