We present seven new vertebrate homologs of the prolactin-releasing hormone receptor (PRLHR) and show that these are found as two separate subtypes, PRLHR1 and PRLHR2. Analysis of a number of vertebrate sequences using phylogeny, pharmacology, and paralogon analysis indicates that the PRLHRs are likely to share a common ancestry with the neuropeptide Y (NPY) receptors. Moreover, a micromolar level of NPY was able to bind and inhibit completely the PRLH-evoked response in PRLHR1-expressing cells. We suggest that an ancestral PRLH peptide started coevolving with a redundant NPY binding receptor, which then became PRLHR, approximately 500 million years ago. The PRLHR1 subtype was shown to have a relatively high evolutionary rate compared to receptors with fixed peptide preference, which could indicate a drastic change in binding preference, thus supporting this hypothesis. This report suggests how gene duplication events can lead to novel peptide ligand/receptor interactions and hence spur the evolution of new physiological functions.
- Neuropeptide Y
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