• Elevated Evolutionary Rates among Functionally Diverged Reproductive Genes across Deep Vertebrate Lineages

      Grassa, Christopher J; Kulathinal, Rob J; Kulathinal, Rob|0000-0003-1907-2744 (2011-07-28)
      <jats:p>Among closely related taxa, proteins involved in reproduction generally evolve more rapidly than other proteins. Here, we apply a functional and comparative genomics approach to compare functional divergence across a deep phylogenetic array of egg-laying and live-bearing vertebrate taxa. We aligned and annotated a set of 4,986 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 orthologs in <jats:italic>Anolis carolinensis</jats:italic> (green lizard), <jats:italic>Danio rerio</jats:italic> (zebrafish), <jats:italic>Xenopus tropicalis</jats:italic> (frog), <jats:italic>Gallus gallus</jats:italic> (chicken), and <jats:italic>Mus musculus</jats:italic> (mouse) according to function using ESTs from available reproductive (including testis and ovary) and non-reproductive tissues as well as Gene Ontology. For each species lineage, genes were further classified as tissue-specific (found in a single tissue) or tissue-expressed (found in multiple tissues). Within independent vertebrate lineages, we generally find that gonadal-specific genes evolve at a faster rate than gonadal-expressed genes and significantly faster than non-reproductive genes. Among the gonadal set, testis genes are generally more diverged than ovary genes. Surprisingly, an opposite but nonsignificant pattern is found among the subset of orthologs that remained functionally conserved across <jats:italic>all</jats:italic> five lineages. These contrasting evolutionary patterns found between functionally diverged and functionally conserved reproductive orthologs provide evidence for pervasive and potentially cryptic lineage-specific selective processes on ancestral reproductive systems in vertebrates.</jats:p>