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Genome Biol Evol. 2011;3:396-400. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evr034. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Correlated evolution among six gene families in Drosophila revealed by parallel change of gene numbers.

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State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China.


Proteins involved in a pathway are likely to evolve in a correlated fashion, and coevolving gene families tend to undergo complementary gains and losses. Accordingly, gene copy numbers (i.e., repertoire size) tend to show parallel changes during the evolution of coevolving gene families. To test and verify this hypothesis, here we describe positive correlations among the repertoire sizes of six gene families, that is, trypsin-like serine protease, odorant-binding protein, odorant receptor, gustatory receptor, cytochrome P450, and glutathione S-transferase after excluding the possibility of phylogenetic constraint and random drift. The observed correlations are indicative of parallel changes in the repertoire sizes of the six gene families that are due to similar demands for the quantity of these different genes in different lineages of Drosophila. In conclusion, we propose that the correlated evolution among these six gene families in Drosophila is a signature of a parallel response to ecological adaptation.

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