, Volume 64, Issue 7, pp 549-558
Date: 13 Mar 2012

Evolution of the βGRP/GNBP/β-1,3-glucanase family of insects

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The βGRP/GNBP/β-1,3-glucanase protein family of insects includes several proteins involved in innate immune recognition, such as the β-glucan recognition proteins of Lepidoptera and the Gram-negative bacteria-binding proteins of Drosophila. A phylogenetic analysis supported the existence of two distinct subfamilies, designated the pattern recognition receptor (PRR) and glucanase subfamilies, which originated by gene duplication prior to the origin of the Holometabola. In the C-terminal region (CTR) shared by both subfamilies, the PRR subfamily has evolved significantly more rapidly at the amino acid sequence level than has the glucanase subfamily, implying a relative lack of constraint on the amino acid sequence of this region in the PRR subfamily. PRR subfamily members also include an N-terminal region (NTR), involved in carbohydrate recognition, which is not shared by glucanase subfamily members. In comparisons between paralogous PRR subfamily members, there were no conserved amino acid residues in the NTR. However, when pairs of putatively orthologous PRR subfamily members were compared, the NTR was most often as conserved as the CTR or more so. This pattern suggests that the NTR may be important in functions specific to the different paralogs, while amino acid sequence changes in the NTR may have been important in functional differentiation among paralogs, specifically with regard to the types of carbohydrates that they recognize.