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Zimmermann, Wolfgang; Kammerer, Robert (2016): Coevolution of paired receptors in Xenopus carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule families suggests appropriation as pathogen receptors. In: BMC Genomics 17:928


BACKGROUND: In mammals, CEACAM1 and closely related members represent paired receptors with similar extracellular ligand-binding regions and cytoplasmic domains with opposing functions. Human CEACAM1 and CEACAM3 which have inhibitory ITIM/ITSM and activating ITAM-like motifs, respectively, in their cytoplasmic regions are such paired receptors. Various bacterial pathogens bind to CEACAM1 on epithelial and immune cells facilitating both entry into the host and down-regulation of the immune response whereas interaction with granulocyte-specific CEACAM3 leads to their uptake and destruction. It is unclear whether paired CEACAM receptors also exist in other vertebrate clades. RESULTS: We identified more than 80 ceacam genes in Xenopus tropicalis and X. laevis. They consist of two subgroups containing one or two putative paired receptor pairs each. Analysis of genomic sequences of paired receptors provide evidence that their highly similar ligand binding domains were adjusted by recent gene conversion events. In contrast, selection for diversification is observed among inhibitory receptor orthologs of the two frogs which split some 60 million years ago. The allotetraploid X. laevis arose later by hybridization of two closely related species. Interestingly, despite the conservation of the genomic landscape surrounding the homeologous ceacam loci only one locus resembles the one found in X. tropicalis. From the second X. laevis locus more than 80 % of the ceacam genes were lost including 5 of the 6 paired receptor genes. This suggests that once the gene for one of the paired receptors is lost the remaining gene cluster degrades rapidly probably due to lack of selection pressure exerted by pathogens. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of paired receptors and selection for diversification suggests that also in amphibians CEACAM1-related inhibitory proteins are or were used as pathogen receptors.