Supplementary material from "Expression of a novel surfactant protein gene is associated with sites of extrapulmonary respiration in a lungless salamander"

Posted on 2018-09-15 - 06:47
Numerous physiological and morphological adaptations were achieved during the transition to lungless respiration that accompanied evolutionary lung loss in plethodontid salamanders, including those that enable efficient gas exchange across extrapulmonary tissue. However, the molecular basis of these adaptations is unknown. Here, we show that lungless salamanders express in the larval integument and the adult buccopharynx—principal sites of respiratory gas exchange in these species—a novel paralogue of the gene surfactant-associated protein C (SFTPC), which is a critical component of pulmonary surfactant expressed exclusively in the lung in other vertebrates. The paralogous gene appears to be found only in salamanders, but, similar to SFTPC, in lunged salamanders it is expressed only in the lung. This heterotopic gene expression, combined with predictions from structural modelling and respiratory tissue ultrastructure, suggests that lungless salamanders may produce pulmonary surfactant-like secretions outside the lungs and that the novel paralogue of SFTPC might facilitate extrapulmonary respiration in the absence of lungs. Heterotopic expression of the SFTPC paralogue may have contributed to the remarkable evolutionary radiation of lungless salamanders, which account for more than two thirds of urodele species alive today.


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