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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 20;107(16):7353-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0910339107. Epub 2010 Apr 5.

Contrasting genetic paths to morphological and physiological evolution.

Author information

  • 1Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Institute of Population Health Sciences, National Health Research Institutes, Miaoli County 350, Taiwan, Republic of China. liaoby@nhri.org.tw

Abstract

The relative importance of protein function change and gene expression change in phenotypic evolution is a contentious, yet central topic in evolutionary biology. Analyzing 5,199 mouse genes with recorded mutant phenotypes, we find that genes exclusively affecting morphological traits when mutated (dubbed "morphogenes") are grossly enriched with transcriptional regulators, whereas those exclusively affecting physiological traits (dubbed "physiogenes") are enriched with channels, transporters, receptors, and enzymes. Compared to physiogenes, morphogenes are more likely to be essential and pleiotropic and less likely to be tissue specific. Morphogenes evolve faster in expression profile, but slower in protein sequence and gene gain/loss than physiogenes. Thus, morphological and physiological changes have a differential molecular basis; separating them helps discern the genetic mechanisms of phenotypic evolution.

PMID:
20368429
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2867737
Free PMC Article

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