Genome biology and evolution

Expanding Duplication of Free Fatty Acid Receptor-2 (GPR43) Genes in the Chicken Genome.

PMID 25912043


Free fatty acid receptors (FFAR) belong to a family of five G-protein coupled receptors that are involved in the regulation of lipid metabolism, so that their loss of function increases the risk of obesity. The aim of this study was to determine the expansion of genes encoding paralogs of FFAR2 in the chicken, considered as a model organism for developmental biology and biomedical research. By estimating the gene copy number using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, genomic DNA resequencing, and RNA sequencing data, we showed the existence of 23 ± 1.5 genes encoding FFAR2 paralogs in the chicken genome. The FFAR2 paralogs shared an identity from 87.2% up to 99%. Extensive gene conversion was responsible for this high degree of sequence similarities between these genes, and this concerned especially the four amino acids known to be critical for ligand binding. Moreover, elevated nonsynonymous/synonymous substitution ratios on some amino acids within or in close-vicinity of the ligand-binding groove suggest that positive selection may have reduced the effective rate of gene conversion in this region, thus contributing to diversify the function of some FFAR2 paralogs. All the FFAR2 paralogs were located on a microchromosome in a same linkage group. FFAR2 genes were expressed in different tissues and cells such as spleen, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, abdominal adipose tissue, intestine, and lung, with the highest rate of expression in testis. Further investigations are needed to determine whether these chicken-specific events along evolution are the consequence of domestication and may play a role in regulating lipid metabolism in this species.