MOLECULAR EVOLUTION OF GPCRS: Ghrelin/ghrelin receptors

    1. Mikiya Miyazato
    1. Department of Biochemistry, National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center Research Institute, 5-7-1 Fujishirodai, Suita, Osaka 565-8565, Japan
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to H Kaiya; Email: kaiya{at}


    After the discovery in 1996 of the GH secretagogue-receptor type-1a (GHS-R1a) as an orphan G-protein coupled receptor, many research groups attempted to identify the endogenous ligand. Finally, Kojima and colleagues successfully isolated the peptide ligand from rat stomach extracts, determined its structure, and named it ghrelin. The GHS-R1a is now accepted to be the ghrelin receptor. The existence of the ghrelin system has been demonstrated in many animal classes through biochemical and molecular biological strategies as well as through genome projects. Our work, focused on identifying the ghrelin receptor and its ligand ghrelin in laboratory animals, particularly nonmammalian vertebrates, has provided new insights into the molecular evolution of the ghrelin receptor. In mammals, it is assumed that the ghrelin receptor evolution is in line with the plate tectonics theory. In contrast, the evolution of the ghrelin receptor in nonmammalian vertebrates differs from that of mammals: multiplicity of the ghrelin receptor isoforms is observed in nonmammalian vertebrates only. This multiplicity is due to genome duplication and polyploidization events that particularly occurred in Teleostei. Furthermore, it is likely that the evolution of the ghrelin receptor is distinct from that of its ligand, ghrelin, because only one ghrelin isoform has been detected in all species examined so far. In this review, we summarize current knowledge related to the molecular evolution of the ghrelin receptor in mammalian and nonmammalian vertebrates.

    • Revision received 24 November 2013
    • Accepted 17 December 2013
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 18 December 2013
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