A window into domain amplification through piccolo in teleost fish

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4 Scopus citations


I describe and characterize the extensive amplification of the zinc finger domain of Piccolo selectively in teleost fish. Piccolo and Bassoon are partially functionally redundant and play roles in regulating the pool of neurotransmitter-filled synaptic vesicles present at synapses. In mice, each protein contains two N-terminal zinc finger domains that have been implicated in interacting with synaptic vesicles. In all teleosts examined, both the Bassoon and Piccolo genes are duplicated. Both teleost bassoon genes and one piccolo gene show very similar domain structure and intron-exon organization to their mouse homologs. In contrast, in piccolo b a single exon that encodes a zinc finger domain is amplified 8 to 16 times in different teleost species. Analysis of the amplified exons suggests they were added and/or deleted from the gene as individual exons in rare events that are likely the result of unequal crossovers between homologous sequences. Surprisingly, the structure of the repeats from cod and zebrafish suggest that amplification of this exon has occurred independently multiple times in the teleost lineage. Based on the structure of the exons, I propose a model in which selection for high sequence similarity at the 59 and 39 ends of the exon drives amplification of the repeats and diversity in repeat length likely promotes the stability of the repeated exons by minimizing the likelihood of mispairing of adjacent repeat sequences. Further analysis of piccolo b in teleosts should provide a window through which to examine the process of domain amplification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1325-1339
Number of pages15
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2012


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