Phylogenetic comparisons between homologous proteins can provide information on the rates of molecular evolution of the proteins. G protein-coupled receptors are a "superfamily" of proteins which exist in species ranging from yeast to man. Based on an analysis of the percentage of amino acid homology between various species, the rate of molecular evolution of G protein-coupled receptors can be estimated at approx 1% per 10 million years. Based on this assumption, the primordial 5-HT receptor must have evolved more than 700-800 million years ago since the 3 major classes of G protein-coupled 5-HT receptors (i.e. 5-HT1, 5-HT2and 5-HT6receptors) are less than 25% homologous. 5-HT5, 5-HT7, 5-HTsnail, 5-HTdroand 5-HT1Areceptors differentiated approx 600-700 million years ago, the time period during which vertebrates diverged from invertebrates. The mammalian 5-HT receptor subtypes have differentiated over the past 90 million years. Thus, although a recent flurry of "new" 5-HT receptors have appeared in the literature, the first "primordial" 5-HT receptor evolved over 750 million years ago, a date which likely predates the evolution of muscarinic, dopaminergic and adrenergic receptor systems. This analysis also predicts that a significant number of both mammalian and invertebrate G protein-coupled 5-HT receptor subtypes remain to be identified. © 1994.
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