What lies beneath: Hydra provides cnidarian perspectives into the evolution of FGFR docking proteins

Ashwini Suryawanshi, Karolin Schaefer, Oliver Holz, David Apel, Ellen Lange, David C. Hayward, David J. Miller, Monika Hassel*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Across the Bilateria, FGF/FGFR signaling is critical for normal development, and in both Drosophila and vertebrates, docking proteins are required to connect activated FGFRs with downstream pathways. While vertebrates use Frs2 to dock FGFR to the RAS/MAPK or PI3K pathways, the unrelated protein, downstream of FGFR (Dof/stumps/heartbroken), fulfills the corresponding function in Drosophila. To better understand the evolution of the signaling pathway downstream of FGFR, the available sequence databases were screened to identify Frs2, Dof, and other key pathway components in phyla that diverged early in animal evolution. While Frs2 homologues were detected only in members of the Bilateria, canonical Dof sequences (containing Dof, ankyrin, and SH2/SH3 domains) were present in cnidarians as well as bilaterians (but not in other animals or holozoans), correlating with the appearance of FGFR. Although these data suggested that Dof coupling might be ancestral, gene expression analysis in the cnidarian Hydra revealed that Dof is not upregulated in the zone of strong FGFRa and FGFRb expression at the bud base, where FGFR signaling controls detachment. In contrast, transcripts encoding other, known elements of FGFR signaling in Bilateria, namely the FGFR adaptors Grb2 and Crkl, which are acting downstream of Dof (and Frs2), as well as the guanyl nucleotide exchange factor Sos, and the tyrosine phosphatase Csw/Shp2, were strongly upregulated at the bud base. Our expression analysis, thus, identified transcriptional upregulation of known elements of FGFR signaling at the Hydra bud base indicating a highly conserved toolkit. Lack of transcriptional Dof upregulation raises the interesting question, whether Hydra FGFR signaling requires either of the docking proteins known from Bilateria.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-238
    Number of pages12
    JournalDevelopment Genes and Evolution
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


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