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J Evol Biol. 2007 Mar;20(2):503-16.

Maize Sh2 gene is constrained by natural selection but escaped domestication.

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UMR de Génétique Végétale (8120), Ferme du Moulon, F91 190 Gif sur Yvette, France.


In Zea mays L., we studied the molecular evolution of Shrunken2 (Sh2), a gene that encodes the large subunits of a major enzyme in endosperm starch biosynthesis, ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase. We compared 4669 bp of the Sh2 coding region on 50 accessions of maize and teosinte. Very few nucleotide polymorphisms were found when compared with other genes in Z. mays, revealing an effect of purifying selection in the whole species that predates domestication. Additionally, the comparison of Sh2 sequences in all Z. mays subspecies and outgroups Z. diploperennis and Tripsacum dactyloides suggests the occurrence of an ancient selective sweep in the Sh2 3' region. The amount and nature of nucleotide diversity are similar in both maize and teosinte, confirming previous results that suggested that Sh2 has not been involved in maize domestication. The very low level of nucleotide diversity as well as the highly conserved protein sequence suggest that natural selection retained effective Sh2 allele(s) long before agriculture started, making human selection inefficient on this gene.

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