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J Mol Evol. 2002 Mar;54(3):403-10.

Positive darwinian selection promotes heterogeneity among members of the antifreeze protein multigene family.

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Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


A variety of organisms have independently evolved proteins exhibiting antifreeze activity that allows survival at subfreezing temperatures. The antifreeze proteins (AFPs) bind ice nuclei and depress the freezing point by a noncolligative absorption-inhibition mechanism. Many organisms have a heterogeneous suite of AFPs with variation in primary sequence between paralogous loci. Here, we demonstrate that the diversification of the AFP paralogues is promoted by positive Darwinian selection in two independently evolved AFPs from fish and beetle. First, we demonstrate an elevated rate of nonsynonymous substitutions compared to synonymous substitutions in the mature protein coding region. Second, we perform phylogeny-based tests of selection to demonstrate a subset of codons is subjected to positive selection. When mapped onto the three-dimensional structure of the fish antifreeze type III antifreeze structure, these codons correspond to amino acid positions that surround but do not interrupt the putative ice-binding surface. The selective agent may be related to efficient binding to diverse ice surfaces or some other aspect of AFP function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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