Gene duplications and gene loss in the epidermal differentiation complex during the evolutionary land-to-water transition of cetaceans

Karin Brigit Holthaus, Julia Lachner, Bettina Ebner, Erwin Tschachler, Leopold Eckhart
2021 Scientific Reports  
AbstractMajor protein components of the mammalian skin barrier are encoded by genes clustered in the Epidermal Differentiation Complex (EDC). The skin of cetaceans, i.e. whales, porpoises and dolphins, differs histologically from that of terrestrial mammals. However, the genetic regulation of their epidermal barrier is only incompletely known. Here, we investigated the EDC of cetaceans by comparative genomics. We found that important epidermal cornification proteins, such as loricrin and
more » ... rin are conserved and subtypes of small proline-rich proteins (SPRRs) are even expanded in numbers in cetaceans. By contrast, keratinocyte proline rich protein (KPRP), skin-specific protein 32 (XP32) and late-cornified envelope (LCE) genes with the notable exception of LCE7A have been lost in cetaceans. Genes encoding proline rich 9 (PRR9) and late cornified envelope like proline rich 1 (LELP1) have degenerated in subgroups of cetaceans. These data suggest that the evolution of an aquatic lifestyle was accompanied by amplification of SPRR genes and loss of specific other epidermal differentiation genes in the phylogenetic lineage leading to cetaceans.
doi:10.1038/s41598-021-91863-3 pmid:34112911 fatcat:edfokqd3lzhxjkuv6qusmyo6im