PloS one

The nuclear receptors of Biomphalaria glabrata and Lottia gigantea: implications for developing new model organisms.

PMID 25849443


Nuclear receptors (NRs) are transcription regulators involved in an array of diverse physiological functions including key roles in endocrine and metabolic function. The aim of this study was to identify nuclear receptors in the fully sequenced genome of the gastropod snail, Biomphalaria glabrata, intermediate host for Schistosoma mansoni and compare these to known vertebrate NRs, with a view to assessing the snail's potential as a invertebrate model organism for endocrine function, both as a prospective new test organism and to elucidate the fundamental genetic and mechanistic causes of disease. For comparative purposes, the genome of a second gastropod, the owl limpet, Lottia gigantea was also investigated for nuclear receptors. Thirty-nine and thirty-three putative NRs were identified from the B. glabrata and L. gigantea genomes respectively, based on the presence of a conserved DNA-binding domain and/or ligand-binding domain. Nuclear receptor transcript expression was confirmed and sequences were subjected to a comparative phylogenetic analysis, which demonstrated that these molluscs have representatives of all the major NR subfamilies (1-6). Many of the identified NRs are conserved between vertebrates and invertebrates, however differences exist, most notably, the absence of receptors of Group 3C, which includes some of the vertebrate endocrine hormone targets. The mollusc genomes also contain NR homologues that are present in insects and nematodes but not in vertebrates, such as Group 1J (HR48/DAF12/HR96). The identification of many shared receptors between humans and molluscs indicates the potential for molluscs as model organisms; however the absence of several steroid hormone receptors indicates snail endocrine systems are fundamentally different.