In mammalian thermosensation, nine temperature-sensitive ion channels that are activated by distinct temperature thresholds have been identified as thermosensors. These ion channels belong to the transient receptor potential (TRP) superfamily and are referred to as "thermoTRPs" (TRPV1, TRPV2, TRPV3, TRPV4, TRPM2, TRPM4, TRPM5, TRPM8, and TRPA1). To elucidate the evolutionary processes of thermoTRPs, we conducted comprehensive searches for mammalian thermoTRP gene homologs in the draft genome sequences of chicken (Gallus gallus), western clawed frog (Xenopus tropicalis), zebrafish (Danio rerio), and pufferfish (Fugu rubripes). Newly identified homologs were compared with known thermoTRPs, and phylogenetic analyses were conducted. Our comparative analyses revealed that most of the mammalian thermo-TRP members already existed in the common ancestor of fishes and tetrapods. Tetrapods shared almost the same repertoire, except that the western clawed frog expanded TRPV4s (six copies) and TRPM8s (two copies), which were diversified considerably. Comparisons of nonsynonymous and synonymous substitution rates among TRPV4s suggested that one copy of the TRPV4 channel in the western clawed frog retained its original function, while the other copies diversified and obtained slightly different properties. In fish lineages, several members of thermo-TRPs have duplicated in the whole genome duplication occurred in the ancestral ray-finned fish; however, some of the copies have subsequently been lost. Furthermore, fishes do not possess the three members of thermoTRPs existed in mammals, e.g., thermoTRPs activated by noxious heat, warm, and cool temperatures. Our results suggest that thermosensation mechanisms have changed through vertebrate evolution with respect to thermosensor repertoires.
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