Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and the GnRH receptor (GnRHR) play an important role in vertebrate reproduction. Although many GnRHR genes have been identified in a large variety of vertebrate species, the evolutionary history of GnRHR in vertebrates is unclear. To trace the evolutionary origin of GnRHR we examined the conserved synteny of chromosomes harboring GnRHR genes and matched the genes to linkage groups of reconstructed vertebrate ancestor chromosomes. Consistent with the phylogenetic tree, three pairs of GnRHR subtypes were identified in three paralogous linkage groups, indicating that an ancestral pair emerged through local duplication before two rounds of whole genome duplication (2R). The 2R then led to the generation of six subtypes of GnRHR. Some subtypes were lost during vertebrate evolution after the divergence of teleosts and tetrapods. One subtype includes mammalian GnRHR and a coelacanth GnRHR that showed the greatest response to GnRH1 among the three types of GnRH. This study provides new insight into the evolutionary relationship of vertebrate GnRHRs.
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