Elife.: auth.: group Dessimoz and R.Benton

Elife. 2020 Dec 4;9:e62507. doi: 10.7554/eLife.62507. Online ahead of print.

A putative origin of the insect chemosensory receptor superfamily in the last common eukaryotic ancestor

Richard Benton 1Christophe Dessimoz 1David Moi 1

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The insect chemosensory repertoires of Odorant Receptors (ORs) and Gustatory Receptors (GRs) together represent one of the largest families of ligand-gated ion channels. Previous analyses have identified homologous ‘Gustatory Receptor-Like (GRL)’ proteins across Animalia, but the evolutionary origin of this novel class of ion channels is unknown. We describe a survey of unicellular eukaryotic genomes for GRLs, identifying several candidates in fungi, protists and algae that contain many structural features characteristic of animal GRLs. The existence of these proteins in unicellular eukaryotes, together with ab initio protein structure predictions, provide evidence for homology between GRLs and a family of uncharacterized plant proteins containing the DUF3537 domain. Together, our analyses suggest an origin of this protein superfamily in the last common eukaryotic ancestor.