We identified orthologues of all mammalian Janus kinase (JAK) and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) genes in teleostean fishes, indicating that these protein families were already largely complete before the teleost tetrapod split, 450 million years ago. In mammals, the STAT repertoire consists of seven genes (STAT1, -2, -3, -4, -5a, -5b, and -6). Our phylogenetic analyses show that STAT proteins that are recruited downstream of endocrine hormones (STAT3 and STAT5a and -5b) show a markedly higher primary sequence conservation compared with STATs that convey immune signals (STAT1-2, STAT4, and STAT6). A similar dichotomy in evolutionary conservation is observed for the JAK family of protein kinases, which activate STATs. The ligands to activate the JAK/STAT-signalling pathway include hormones and cytokines such as GH, prolactin, interleukin 6 (IL6) and IL12. In this paper, we examine the evolutionary forces that have acted on JAK/STAT signalling in the endocrine and immune systems and discuss the reasons why the JAK/STAT cascade that conveys classical immune signals has diverged much faster compared with endocrine JAK/STAT paralogues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism