S100 proteins are calcium-binding proteins, which exist only in vertebrates and which constitute a large protein family. The origin and evolution of the S100 family in vertebrate lineages remain a challenge. Here, we examined the synteny conservation of mammalian S100A genes by analysing the sequence of available vertebrate S100 genes in databases. Five S100A gene members, unknown previously, were identified by chromosome mapping analysis. Mammalian S100A genes are duplicated and clustered on a single chromosome while two S100A gene clusters are found on separate chromosomes in teleost fish, suggesting that S100A genes existed in fish before the fish-specific genome duplication took place. During speciation, tandem gene duplication events within the cluster of S100A genes of a given chromosome have probably led to the multiple members of the S100A gene family. These duplicated genes have been retained in the genome either by neofunctionalisation and/or subfunctionalisation or have evolved into non-coding sequences. However in vertebrate genomes, other S100 genes are also present i.e. S100P, S100B, S100G and S100Z, which exist as single copy genes distributed on different chromosomes, suggesting that they could have evolved from an ancestor different to that of the S100A genes.
Keywords: chromosome mapping, S100, genome duplication, synteny, vertebrate