BMC evolutionary biology, 2017-12-15, Vol.17 (1), p.256-256
The Na,K-ATPase is a vital animal cell-membrane protein that maintains the cell's resting potential, among other functions. Cardenolides, a group of potent plant toxins, bind to and inhibit this pump. The gene encoding the α-subunit of the pump has undergone duplication events in some insect species known to feed on plants containing cardenolides. Here we test the function of these duplicated gene copies in the cardenolide-adapted milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus, which has three known copies of the gene: α1A, α1B and α1C.
Using RT-qPCR analyses we demonstrate that the α1C is highly expressed in neural tissue, where the pump is generally thought to be most important for neuron excitability. With the use of in vivo RNAi in adult bugs we found that α1C knockdowns suffered high mortality, where as α1A and α1B did not, supporting that α1C is most important for effective ion pumping. Next we show a role for α1A and α1B in the handling of cardenolides: expression results find that both copies are primarily expressed in the Malpighian tubules, the primary insect organ responsible for excretion, and when we injected either α1A or α1B knockdowns with cardenolides this proved fatal (whereas not in controls).
These results show that the Na,K-ATPα gene-copies have taken on diverse functions. Having multiple copies of this gene appears to have allowed the newly arisen duplicates to specialize on resistance to cardenolides, whereas the ancestral copy of the pump remains comparatively sensitive, but acts as a more efficient ion carrier. Interestingly both the α1A and α1B were required for cardenolide handling, suggesting that these two copies have separate and vital functions. Gene duplications of the Na,K-ATPase thus represent an excellent example of subfunctionalization in response to a new environmental challenge.
Adenosine triphosphatase ; Amino Acid Sequence ; Analysis ; Animals ; Cardenolides ; Cardenolides - chemistry ; Cardenolides - metabolism ; Cells ; Coevolution ; Evolution, Molecular ; Feed industry ; Gene Dosage ; Gene Duplication ; Gene expression ; Gene Expression Profiling ; Gene Knockdown Techniques ; Genes ; Heteroptera - enzymology ; Heteroptera - genetics ; Milkweed bug ; Oncopeltus fasciatus ; Organ Specificity ; Phenotype ; RNAi ; Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase - chemistry ; Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase - genetics
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