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Mol Biol Evol. 2008 Aug;25(8):1639-50. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msn111. Epub 2008 May 13.

Effects of X-linkage and sex-biased gene expression on the rate of adaptive protein evolution in Drosophila.

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  • 1Section of Evolutionary Biology, Department of Biology, University of Munich, 82152 Munich, Germany.


Patterns of polymorphism and divergence in Drosophila protein-coding genes suggest that a considerable fraction of amino acid differences between species can be attributed to positive selection and that genes with sex-biased expression, that is, those expressed predominantly in one sex, have especially high rates of adaptive evolution. Previous studies, however, have been restricted to autosomal sex-biased genes and, thus, do not provide a complete picture of the evolutionary forces acting on sex-biased genes across the genome. To determine the effects of X-linkage on sex-biased gene evolution, we surveyed DNA sequence polymorphism and divergence in 45 X-linked genes, including 17 with male-biased expression, 13 with female-biased expression, and 15 with equal expression in the 2 sexes. Using both single- and multilocus tests for selection, we found evidence for adaptive evolution in both groups of sex-biased genes. The signal of adaptive evolution was particularly strong for X-linked male-biased genes. A comparison with data from 91 autosomal genes revealed a "fast-X" effect, in which the rate of adaptive evolution was greater for X-linked than for autosomal genes. This effect was strongest for male-biased genes but could be seen in the other groups as well. A genome-wide analysis of coding sequence divergence that accounted for sex-biased expression also uncovered a fast-X effect for male-biased and unbiased genes, suggesting that recessive beneficial mutations play an important role in adaptation.

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