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Open AccessArticle

The Molecular Evolution of Circadian Clock Genes in Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)

School of Biology & Basic Medical Sciences, Medical College of Soochow University, Suzhou 215123, China
Center for Circadian Clocks, Soochow University, Suzhou 215123, China
Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Genes 2019, 10(8), 622;
Received: 3 July 2019 / Revised: 9 August 2019 / Accepted: 14 August 2019 / Published: 17 August 2019
Circadian rhythms are biological rhythms with a period of approximately 24 h. While canonical circadian clock genes and their regulatory mechanisms appear highly conserved, the evolution of clock gene families is still unclear due to several rounds of whole genome duplication in vertebrates. The spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus), as a non-teleost ray-finned fish, represents a fish lineage that diverged before the teleost genome duplication (TGD), providing an outgroup for exploring the evolutionary mechanisms of circadian clocks after whole-genome duplication. In this study, we interrogated the spotted gar draft genome sequences and found that spotted gar contains 26 circadian clock genes from 11 families. Phylogenetic analysis showed that 9 of these 11 spotted gar circadian clock gene families have the same number of genes as humans, while the members of the nfil3 and cry families are different between spotted gar and humans. Using phylogenetic and syntenic analyses, we found that nfil3-1 is conserved in vertebrates, while nfil3-2 and nfil3-3 are maintained in spotted gar, teleost fish, amphibians, and reptiles, but not in mammals. Following the two-round vertebrate genome duplication (VGD), spotted gar retained cry1a, cry1b, and cry2, and cry3 is retained in spotted gar, teleost fish, turtles, and birds, but not in mammals. We hypothesize that duplication of core clock genes, such as (nfil3 and cry), likely facilitated diversification of circadian regulatory mechanisms in teleost fish. We also found that the transcription factor binding element (Ahr::Arnt) is retained only in one of the per1 or per2 duplicated paralogs derived from the TGD in the teleost fish, implicating possible subfuctionalization cases. Together, these findings help decipher the repertoires of the spotted gar’s circadian system and shed light on how the vertebrate circadian clock systems have evolved. View Full-Text
Keywords: circadian clocks; spotted gar; genome duplication; conserved synteny; functional divergence circadian clocks; spotted gar; genome duplication; conserved synteny; functional divergence
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Sun, Y.; Liu, C.; Huang, M.; Huang, J.; Liu, C.; Zhang, J.; Postlethwait, J.H.; Wang, H. The Molecular Evolution of Circadian Clock Genes in Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus). Genes 2019, 10, 622.

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