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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jun 19;98(13):7375-9. Epub 2001 Jun 12.

Evolutionary EST analysis identifies rapidly evolving male reproductive proteins in Drosophila.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Biotechnology Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-2703, USA.


Sequence comparisons of genomes or expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from related organisms provide insight into functional conservation and diversification. We compare the sequences of ESTs from the male accessory gland of Drosophila simulans to their orthologs in its close relative Drosophila melanogaster, and demonstrate rapid divergence of many of these reproductive genes. Nineteen ( approximately 11%) of 176 independent genes identified in the EST screen contain protein-coding regions with an excess of nonsynonymous over synonymous changes, suggesting that their divergence has been accelerated by positive Darwinian selection. Genes that encode putative accessory gland-specific seminal fluid proteins had a significantly elevated level of nonsynonymous substitution relative to nonaccessory gland-specific genes. With the 57 new accessory gland genes reported here, we predict that approximately 90% of the male accessory gland genes have been identified. The evolutionary EST approach applied here to identify putative targets of adaptive evolution is readily applicable to other tissues and organisms.

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