Hultqvist, G., Daza, D.O., Larhammar, D., and Kilimann, M.W. (2012) Evolution of the vertebrate paralemmin gene family: ancient origin of gene duplicates suggests distinct functions. PLoS One. 7(7):e41850.
Paralemmin-1 is a protein implicated in plasma membrane dynamics, the development of filopodia, neurites and dendritic spines, as well as the invasiveness and metastatic potential of cancer cells. However, little is known about its mode of action, or about the biological functions of the other paralemmin isoforms: paralemmin-2, paralemmin-3 and palmdelphin. We describe here evolutionary analyses of the paralemmin gene family in a broad range of vertebrate species. Our results suggest that the four paralemmin isoform genes (PALM1, PALM2, PALM3 and PALMD) arose by quadruplication of an ancestral gene in the two early vertebrate genome duplications. Paralemmin-1 and palmdelphin were further duplicated in the teleost fish specific genome duplication. We identified a unique sequence motif common to all paralemmins, consisting of 11 highly conserved residues of which four are invariant. A single full-length paralemmin homolog with this motif was identified in the genome of the sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus and an isolated putative paralemmin motif could be detected in the genome of the lancelet Branchiostoma floridae. This allows us to conclude that the paralemmin gene family arose early and has been maintained throughout vertebrate evolution, suggesting functional diversification and specific biological roles of the paralemmin isoforms. The paralemmin genes have also maintained specific features of gene organisation and sequence. This includes the occurrence of closely linked downstream genes, initially identified as a readthrough fusion protein with mammalian paralemmin-2 (Palm2-AKAP2). We have found evidence for such an arrangement for paralemmin-1 and -2 in several vertebrate genomes, as well as for palmdelphin and paralemmin-3 in teleost fish genomes, and suggest the name paralemmin downstream genes (PDG) for this new gene family. Thus, our findings point to ancient roles for paralemmins and distinct biological functions of the gene duplicates.