Lehrstuhl für Neurobiologie und Genetik

    The Gain and Loss of Cryptochrome/Photolyase Family Members during Evolution


    The cryptochrome/photolyase (CRY/PL) family represents an ancient group of proteins fulfilling two fundamental functions. While photolyases repair UV-induced DNA damages, cryptochromes mainly influence the circadian clock.

    In this study, we took advantage of the large number of already sequenced and annotated genes available in databases and systematically searched for the protein sequences of CRY/PL family members in all taxonomic groups primarily focusing on metazoans and limiting the number of species per taxonomic order to five. Using BLASTP searches and subsequent phylogenetic tree and motif analyses, we identified five distinct photolyases (CPDI, CPDII, CPDIII, 6-4 photolyase, and the plant photolyase PPL) and six cryptochrome subfamilies (DASH-CRY, mammalian-type MCRY, Drosophila-type DCRY, cnidarian-specific ACRY, plant-specific PCRY, and the putative magnetoreceptor CRY4. Manually assigning the CRY/PL subfamilies to the species studied, we have noted that over evolutionary history, an initial increase of various CRY/PL subfamilies was followed by a decrease and specialization. Thus, in more primitive organisms (e.g., bacteria, archaea, simple eukaryotes, and in basal metazoans), we find relatively few CRY/PL members. As species become more evolved (e.g., cnidarians, mollusks, echinoderms, etc.), the CRY/PL repertoire also increases, whereas it appears to decrease again in more recent organisms (humans, fruit flies, etc.). Moreover, our study indicates that all cryptochromes, although largely active in the circadian clock, arose independently from different photolyases, explaining their different modes of action.

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    Journal: Genes
    Autoren: Deppisch, Peter and Helfrich-Förster, Charlotte and Senthilan, Pingkalai R.