Evolution of the genes mediating phototransduction in rod and cone photoreceptors.Prog Retin Eye Res. 2020 05; 76:100823.PR
This paper reviews current knowledge of the evolution of the multiple genes encoding proteins that mediate the process of phototransduction in rod and cone photoreceptors of vertebrates. The approach primarily involves molecular phylogenetic analysis of phototransduction protein sequences, combined with analysis of the syntenic arrangement of the genes. At least 35 of these phototransduction genes appear to reside on no more than five paralogons - paralogous regions that each arose from a common ancestral region. Furthermore, it appears that such paralogs arose through quadruplication during the two rounds of genome duplication (2R WGD) that occurred in a chordate ancestor prior to the vertebrate radiation, probably around 600 millions years ago. For several components of the phototransduction cascade, it is shown that distinct isoforms already existed prior to WGD, with the likely implication that separate classes of scotopic and photopic photoreceptor cells had already evolved by that stage. The subsequent quadruplication of the entire genome then permitted the refinement of multiple distinct protein isoforms in rods and cones. A unified picture of the likely pattern and approximate timing of all the important gene duplications is synthesised, and the implications for our understanding of the evolution of rod and cone phototransduction are presented.