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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Mar 22;102(12):4476-81. Epub 2005 Mar 10.

Adaptive evolution in the SRZ chemoreceptor families of Caenorhabditis elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae.

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  • 1Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 91895, USA. jht@u.washington.edu


We investigated the possibility of positive selection acting on members of the putative seven-pass chemoreceptor superfamily in Caenorhabditis elegans, which comprises approximately 1,300 genes encoding seven-pass G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Using a maximum-likelihood approach, we conducted statistical tests for evidence of codon sites where the ratio of nonsynonymous substitutions per nonsynonymous site to synonymous substitutions per synonymous site (d(N)/d(S)) was >1. Evidence for positive selection was found only for the srz family, about which virtually nothing specific is known. We extended the annotation of the srz gene family, establishing gene models for 60 srz genes in C. elegans and 28 srz genes in Caenorhabditis briggsae. d(N)/d(S) ratios varied dramatically in different regions of the SRZ proteins, peaking in predicted extracellular regions. These regions included 23 sites where evidence of positive selection was highly significant, corresponding remarkably well with regions implicated in ligand binding in other GPCR family members. We interpret these results as indicating that the srz family is under positive selection, probably driven by ligand binding.

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