Evolution of the vertebrate insulin receptor substrate (Irs) gene family
Resistin (encoded by Retn) was previously identified in rodents as a hormone associated with diabetes; however human resistin is instead linked to inflammation. Resistin is a member of a small gene family that includes the resistin-like peptides (encoded by Retnl genes) in mammals. Genomic searches of available genome sequences of diverse vertebrates and phylogenetic analyses were conducted to determine the size and origin of the resistin-like gene family. Genes encoding peptides similar to resistin were found in Mammalia, Sauria, Amphibia, and Actinistia (coelacanth, a lobe-finned fish), but not in Aves or fish from Actinopterygii, Chondrichthyes, or Agnatha. Retnl originated by duplication and transposition from Retn on the early mammalian lineage after divergence of the platypus, but before the placental and marsupial mammal divergence. The resistin-like gene family illustrates an instance where the locus of origin of duplicated genes can be identified, with Retn continuing to reside at this location. Mammalian species typically have a single copy Retn gene, but are much more variable in their numbers of Retnl genes, ranging from 0 to 9. Since Retn is located at the locus of origin, thus likely retained the ancestral expression pattern, largely maintained its copy number, and did not display accelerated evolution, we suggest that it is more likely to have maintained an ancestral function, while Retnl, which transposed to a new location, displays accelerated evolution, and shows greater variability in gene number, including gene loss, likely evolved new, but potentially lineage-specific, functions.