Radomska KJ, Sager J, Farnsworth B, Tellgren-Roth Å, Tuveri G, Peuckert C, Kettunen P, Jazin E, Emilsson LS
PLoS ONE 11 (1) e0146155 [2016-01-04; online 2016-01-04]
Quaking (QKI) is an RNA-binding protein involved in post-transcriptional mRNA processing. This gene is found to be associated with several human neurological disorders. Early expression of QKI proteins in the developing mouse neuroepithelium, together with neural tube defects in Qk mouse mutants, suggest the functional requirement of Qk for the establishment of the nervous system. As a knockout of Qk is embryonic lethal in mice, other model systems like the zebrafish could serve as a tool to study the developmental functions of qki. In the present study we sought to characterize the evolutionary relationship and spatiotemporal expression of qkia, qki2, and qkib; zebrafish homologs of human QKI. We found that qkia is an ancestral paralog of the single tetrapod Qk gene that was likely lost during the fin-to-limb transition. Conversely, qkib and qki2 are orthologs, emerging at the root of the vertebrate and teleost lineage, respectively. Both qki2 and qkib, but not qkia, were expressed in the progenitor domains of the central nervous system, similar to expression of the single gene in mice. Despite having partially overlapping expression domains, each gene has a unique expression pattern, suggesting that these genes have undergone subfunctionalization following duplication. Therefore, we suggest the zebrafish could be used to study the separate functions of qki genes during embryonic development.