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Rapid divergence of the ecdysone receptor in Diptera and Lepidoptera suggests coevolution between ECR and USP-RXR.

Abstract : Ecdysteroid hormones are major regulators in reproduction and development of insects, including larval molts and metamorphosis. The functional ecdysone receptor is a heterodimer of ECR (NR1H1) and USP-RXR (NR2B4), which is the orthologue of vertebrate retinoid X receptors (RXR alpha, beta, gamma). Both proteins belong to the superfamily of nuclear hormone receptors, ligand-dependent transcription factors that share two conserved domains: the DNA-binding domain (DBD) and the ligand-binding domain (LBD). In order to gain further insight into the evolution of metamorphosis and gene regulation by ecdysone in arthropods, we performed a phylogenetic analysis of both partners of the heterodimer ECR/USP-RXR. Overall, 38 USP-RXR and 19 ECR protein sequences, from 33 species, have been used for this analysis. Interestingly, sequence alignments and structural comparisons reveal high divergence rates, for both ECR and USP-RXR, specifically among Diptera and Lepidoptera. The most impressive differences affect the ligand-binding domain of USP-RXR. In addition, ECR sequences show variability in other domains, namely the DNA-binding and the carboxy-terminal F domains. Our data provide the first evidence that ECR and USP-RXR may have coevolved during holometabolous insect diversification, leading to a functional divergence of the ecdysone receptor. These results have general implications on fundamental aspects of insect development, evolution of nuclear receptors, and the design of specific insecticides.
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Contributor : François Bonneton <>
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François Bonneton, Dominique Zelus, Thomas Iwema, Marc Robinson-Rechavi, Vincent Laudet. Rapid divergence of the ecdysone receptor in Diptera and Lepidoptera suggests coevolution between ECR and USP-RXR.. Molecular Biology and Evolution, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2003, 20 (4), pp.541-553. ⟨ensl-00285059⟩



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