Retention of a Duplicate Gene Through Changes in Subcellular Targeting: An Electron Transport Protein Homologue Localizes to the Golgi
Cytochrome c oxidase (COX), the terminal enzyme complex of the electron transport chain, contains 13 subunits, 3 encoded by mitochondrial DNA and 10 by nuclear. Several of the nuclear subunits, including subunit VIIa, are known to have two tissue- and development-specific isoforms in mammals. A recently identified third member of the gene family, COX7AR, encodes a protein previously thought to function in mitochondria. However, observation of fluorescent pCOX7AR C-terminal fusion proteins in HeLa cells showed that pCOX7AR is localized to the Golgi apparatus. Sequence analyses indicate that the duplication of COX7AR occurred prior to the origin of the Euteleostomi (bony vertebrates) and that pCOX7AR is more highly conserved than the two other isoforms. These results indicate that, after gene duplication and modification of the mitochondrial targeting signal, pCOX7AR was evolutionarily altered to a new and apparently important function in the Golgi. These results also suggest that predictions of function from homology can be misleading and show that specialization and modification of subcellular localization are similar to cis-element subfunctionalization. In cis-element subfunctionalization, complementary null mutations occur to the cis-elements of the descendents of a gene duplication, causing both descendent genes to be obligate. In the process described in this paper, which could be termed subcellular subfunctionalization, complementary null mutations can occur to the subcellular localization signals of the descendants of a gene duplication, causing both descendent genes to be similarly obligate. Noncomplementary null mutations could also uncover an alternate localization, which is the more likely case for pCOX7AR.
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