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PLoS Genet. 2013;9(2):e1003287. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003287. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Duplicate abalone egg coat proteins bind sperm lysin similarly, but evolve oppositely, consistent with molecular mimicry at fertilization.

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  • 1Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA. jaagaard@u.washington.edu

Abstract

Sperm and egg proteins constitute a remarkable paradigm in evolutionary biology: despite their fundamental role in mediating fertilization (suggesting stasis), some of these molecules are among the most rapidly evolving ones known, and their divergence can lead to reproductive isolation. Because of strong selection to maintain function among interbreeding individuals, interacting fertilization proteins should also exhibit a strong signal of correlated divergence among closely related species. We use evidence of such molecular co-evolution to target biochemical studies of fertilization in North Pacific abalone (Haliotis spp.), a model system of reproductive protein evolution. We test the evolutionary rates (d(N)/d(S)) of abalone sperm lysin and two duplicated egg coat proteins (VERL and VEZP14), and find a signal of co-evolution specific to ZP-N, a putative sperm binding motif previously identified by homology modeling. Positively selected residues in VERL and VEZP14 occur on the same face of the structural model, suggesting a common mode of interaction with sperm lysin. We test this computational prediction biochemically, confirming that the ZP-N motif is sufficient to bind lysin and that the affinities of VERL and VEZP14 are comparable. However, we also find that on phylogenetic lineages where lysin and VERL evolve rapidly, VEZP14 evolves slowly, and vice versa. We describe a model of sexual conflict that can recreate this pattern of anti-correlated evolution by assuming that VEZP14 acts as a VERL mimic, reducing the intensity of sexual conflict and slowing the co-evolution of lysin and VERL.

PMID:
23408913
PMCID:
PMC3567151
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1003287
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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