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Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Feb;22(2):347-59. Epub 2004 Oct 20.

Isolation and molecular evolution of the selenocysteine tRNA (Cf TRSP) and RNase P RNA (Cf RPPH1) genes in the dog family, Canidae.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


In an effort to identify rapidly evolving nuclear sequences useful for phylogenetic analyses of closely related species, we isolated two genes transcribed by RNA polymerase III (pol III), the selenocysteine tRNA gene (TRSP) and an RNase P RNA (RPPH1) gene from the domestic dog (Canis familiaris). We focus on genes transcribed by pol III because their coding regions are small (generally 100-300 base pairs [bp]) and their essential promoter elements are located within a couple of hundred bps upstream of the coding region. Therefore, we predicted that regions flanking the coding region and outside of the promoter elements would be free of constraint and would evolve rapidly. We amplified TRSP from 23 canids and RPPH1 from 12 canids and analyzed the molecular evolution of these genes and their utility as phylogenetic markers for resolving relationships among species in Canidae. We compared the rate of evolution of the gene-flanking regions to other noncoding regions of nuclear DNA (introns) and to the mitochondrial encoded COII gene. Alignment of TRSP from 23 canids revealed that regions directly adjacent to the coding region display high sequence variability. We discuss this pattern in terms of functional mechanisms of transcription. Although the flanking regions evolve no faster than introns, both genes were found to be useful phylogenetic markers, in part, because of the synapomorphic indels found in the flanking regions. Gene trees generated from the TRSP and RPPH1 loci were generally in agreement with the published mtDNA phylogeny and are the first phylogeny of Canidae based on nuclear sequences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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