Dynamic Evolution of the Cthrc1 Genes, a Newly Defined Collagen-Like Family

Lucas Leclère*, Tal S. Nir, Michael Bazarsky, Merav Braitbard, Dina Schneidman-Duhovny, Uri Gat, Dennis Lavrov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Collagen triple helix repeat containing protein 1 (Cthrc1) is a secreted glycoprotein reported to regulate collagen deposition and to be linked to the Transforming growth factor β/Bone morphogenetic protein and the Wnt/planar cell polarity pathways. It was first identified as being induced upon injury to rat arteries and was found to be highly expressed in multiple human cancer types. Here, we explore the phylogenetic and evolutionary trends of this metazoan gene family, previously studied only in vertebrates. We identify Cthrc1 orthologs in two distant cnidarian species, the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis and the hydrozoan Clytia hemisphaerica, both of which harbor multiple copies of this gene. We find that Cthrc1 clade-specific diversification occurred multiple times in cnidarians as well as in most metazoan clades where we detected this gene. Many other groups, such as arthropods and nematodes, have entirely lost this gene family. Most vertebrates display a single highly conserved gene, and we show that the sequence evolutionary rate of Cthrc1 drastically decreased within the gnathostome lineage. Interestingly, this reduction coincided with the origin of its conserved upstream neighboring gene, Frizzled 6 (FZD6), which in mice has been shown to functionally interact with Cthrc1. Structural modeling methods further reveal that the yet uncharacterized C-terminal domain of Cthrc1 is similar in structure to the globular C1q superfamily domain, also found in the C-termini of collagens VIII and X. Thus, our studies show that the Cthrc1 genes are a collagen-like family with a variable short collagen triple helix domain and a highly conserved C-terminal domain structure resembling the C1q family.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3957-3970
Number of pages14
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - 8 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


  • C1q domain
  • Clytia
  • Cnidaria
  • Cthrc1
  • Nematostella
  • collagen
  • gene loss
  • phylogeny
  • protein structure modeling


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