Various secretory calcium-binding phosphoprotein (SCPP) genes are expressed in the skin and jaw during the formation of bone, teeth, and scales in osteichthyans (bony vertebrates). Among these mineralized skeletal units is the ganoid scale, found in many fossil actinopterygians (ray-finned fish) but confirmed only in Polypteriformes (bichirs, reedfish) and Lepisosteiformes (gars) among extant clades. Here, we examined SCPP genes in the genome of seven non-teleost actinopterygian species that possess or do not possess ganoid scales. As a result, 39–43 SCPP genes were identified in Polypteriformes and Lepisosteiformes, whereas 22–24 SCPP genes were found in Acipenseriformes (sturgeons, paddlefish) and Amiiformes (bowfin). Most of these genes form two clusters in the genome of Polypteriformes, Lepisosteiformes, and Amiiformes, and these two clusters are duplicated in Acipenseriformes. Despite their distant phylogenetic relationship, Polypteriformes and Lepisosteiformes retain many orthologous SCPP genes. These results imply that common ancestors of extant actinopterygians possessed a large repertoire of SCPP genes, and that many SCPP genes were lost independently in Acipenseriformes and Amiiformes. Notably, most SCPP genes originally located in one of the two SCPP gene clusters are retained in Polypteriformes and Lepisosteiformes but were secondarily lost in Acipenseriformes and Amiiformes. In Lepisosteiformes, orthologs of these lost genes show high or detectable expression levels in the skin but not in the jaw. We thus hypothesize that many SCPP genes located in this cluster are involved in the formation of ganoid scales in Polypteriformes and Lepisosteiformes, and that their orthologs and ganoid scales were convergently lost in Acipenseriformes and Amiiformes.
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