File S1: A. filiformis RLuc-like sequences (cDNA/DNA) (fasta format) from A puzzling homology: a brittle star using a putative cnidarian-type luciferase for bioluminescence
2017-03-14T16:18:47Z (GMT) by
Bioluminescence relies on the oxidation of a luciferin substrate catalysed by a luciferase enzyme. Luciferins and luciferases are generic terms used to describe a large variety of substrates and enzymes. Whereas luciferins can be shared by phylogenetically distant organisms which feed on organisms producing them, luciferases have been thought to be lineage-specific enzymes. Numerous light emission systems would then have co-emerged independently along the tree of life resulting in a plethora of non-homologous luciferases. Here, we identify for the first time a candidate luciferase of a luminous echinoderm, the ophiuroid Amphiura filiformis. Phylogenomic analyses identified the brittle star predicted luciferase as homologous to the luciferase of the sea pansy Renilla (Cnidaria), contradicting with the traditional viewpoint according to which luciferases would generally be of convergent origins. The similarity between the Renilla and Amphiura luciferases allowed us to detect the latter using anti-Renilla luciferase antibodies. Luciferase expression was specifically localized in the spines which were demonstrated to be the bioluminescent organs in vivo. However, enzymes homologous to the Renilla luciferase but unable to trigger light emission were also identified in non-luminous echinoderms and metazoans. Our findings strongly indicate that those enzymes, belonging to the haloalkane dehalogenase family, might then have been convergently co-opted into luciferases in cnidarians and echinoderms. In these two benthic suspension-feeding species, similar ecological pressures would constitute strong selective forces for the functional shift of these enzymes and the emergence of bioluminescence.