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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 1999 Dec;13(3):474-82.

Mosaic evolution of ruminant stomach lysozyme genes.

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  • 1Banting and Best Diabetes Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5G1L5, Canada.


The genomes of ruminant artiodactyls, such as cow and sheep, have approximately 10 lysozyme genes, 4 of which are expressed in the stomach. Most of the duplications of the lysozyme genes occurred 40-50 million years ago, before the divergence of cow and sheep. Despite this, the coding regions of stomach lysozyme genes within a species (e.g., cow, sheep, or deer) are more similar to each other than to lysozyme genes in other ruminants. This observation suggests that the coding regions of the stomach lysozyme genes have evolved in a concerted fashion. Our previous characterization of 3 cow stomach lysozyme genes suggested that it was only the coding exons that had participated in concerted evolution. To determine whether the introns and flanking regions of ruminant stomach lysozyme genes are evolving in a concerted or a divergent fashion, we have isolated and characterized 2 sheep stomach lysozyme genes. Comparison of the sequences of the sheep and cow stomach lysozyme genes clearly shows that the introns and flanking regions have evolved, like the 3' untranslated region of the mRNAs, in a divergent manner. Thus, if the four coding exons are evolving by concerted evolution, then a mosaic pattern of concerted and divergent evolution is occurring in these genes. The independent concerted evolution of coding exons of the ruminant stomach lysozyme gene may have assisted in the accelerated adaptive evolution of the lysozyme to new function in the early ruminant.

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