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Insights into the evolution of the suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) gene family in vertebrates

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The SOCS family are key negative regulators of cytokine and growth factor signaling. Typically, 8-17 SOCS genes are present in vertebrate species with eight known in mammals, classified as type I (SOCS4-7) and type II (CISH and SOCS1-3) SOCS. It was believed that the type II SOCS were expanded through the two rounds of whole genome duplication (1R and 2R WGDs) from a single CISH/SOCS1-3 precursor. Previously, 12 genes were identified in rainbow trout but here we report 15 additional loci are present, and confirm 26 of the genes are expressed, giving rainbow trout the largest SOCS gene repertoire identified to date. The discovery of the additional SOCS genes in trout has led to a novel model of SOCS family evolution, whereby the vertebrate SOCS gene family was derived from CISH/SOCS2, SOCS1/SOCS3, SOCS4/5, SOCS6, and SOCS7 ancestors likely present before the two WGD events. It is also apparent that teleost SOCS2b, SOCS4, and SOCS5b molecules are not true orthologues of mammalian SOCS2, SOCS4, and SOCS5, respectively. The rate of SOCS gene structural changes increased from 2R vertebrates, to 4R rainbow trout, and the genes with structural changes show large differences and low correlation coefficient of expression levels relative to their paralogues, suggesting a role of structural changes in expression and functional diversification. This study has important impacts in the functional prediction and understanding of the SOCS gene family in different vertebrates, and provides a framework for determining how many SOCS genes could be expected in a particular vertebrate species/lineage.




Wang, B., Wangkahart, E., Secombes, C. J., & Wang, T. (2019). Insights into the evolution of the suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) gene family in vertebrates. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 36(2), 393–411.

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