An evolutionary comparison of leucine-rich repeat containing G protein-coupled receptors reveals a novel LGR subtype

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Leucine-rich repeat containing G protein-coupled receptors or LGRs are receptors with important functions in development and reproduction. Belonging to this evolutionarily conserved group of receptors are the well-studied glycoprotein hormone receptors and relaxin receptors in mammals, as well as the bursicon receptor, which triggers cuticle hardening and tanning in freshly eclosed insects. In this study, the numerous LGR sequences in different animal phyla are analyzed and compared. Based on these data a phylogenetic tree was generated. This information sheds new light on structural and evolutionary aspects regarding this receptor group. Apart from vertebrates and insects, LGRs are also present in early chordates (Urochordata, Cephalochordata and Hyperoartia) and other arthropods (Arachnida and Branchiopoda) as well as in Mollusca, Echinodermata, Hemichordata, Nematoda, and even in ancient animal life forms, such as Cnidaria and Placozoa. Three distinct types of LGR exist, distinguishable by their number of leucine-rich repeats (LRRs), their type-specific hinge region and the presence or absence of an LDLa motif. Type C LGRs containing only one LDLa (C1 subtype) appear to be present in nearly all animal phyla. We here describe a second subtype, C2, containing multiple LDLa motifs, which was discovered in echinoderms, mollusks and in one insect species (Pediculus humanis corporis). In addition, eight putative LGRs can be predicted from the genome data of the placozoan species Trichoplax adhaerens. They may represent an ancient form of the LGRs, however, more genomic data will be required to confirm this hypothesis.

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