BMC evolutionary biology

Diversity and history of the long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase (Acsl) gene family in vertebrates.

PMID 24330521


Fatty acids, a considerable fraction of lipid molecules, participate in fundamental physiological processes. They undergo activation into their corresponding CoA esters for oxidation or esterification into complex lipids (e.g. triglycerides, phospholipids and cholesterol esters), a process that is carried out by acyl-CoA synthases (ACS). Here we analyze the evolution of the gene family encoding for the long-chain acyl-CoA synthetases (Acsl) in vertebrates. By means of phylogenetics and comparative genomics we show that genome duplications (2R) generated the diversity of Acsl genes in extant vertebrate lineages. In the vertebrate ancestor two separate genes originated the current Acsl1/5/6 and the Acsl3/4 gene families, and the extra gene duplicates in teleosts are a consequence of the teleost specific third round of genome duplication (3R). Moreover, the diversity of Acsl family members is broader than anticipated. Our strategy uncovered a novel uncharacterized Acsl-like gene found in teleosts, spotted gar, coelacanth and possibly lamprey, which we designate Acsl2. The detailed analysis of the Acsl2 teleost gene locus strongly supports the conclusion that it corresponds to a retained 2R paralogue, lost in tetrapods. We provide here the first evolutionary analysis of the Acsl gene family in vertebrates, showing the specific contribution of 2R/3R to the diversity of this gene family. We find also that the division of ACSL enzymes into two groups predates at least the emergence of deuterostomes. Our study indicates that genome duplications significantly contributed to the elaboration of fatty acid activation metabolism in vertebrates.