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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 19;8(4):e62307. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062307. Print 2013.

Adaptive evolution of the myo6 gene in old world fruit bats (family: pteropodidae).

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Institute of Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Institutes for Advanced Interdisciplinary Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.


Myosin VI (encoded by the Myo6 gene) is highly expressed in the inner and outer hair cells of the ear, retina, and polarized epithelial cells such as kidney proximal tubule cells and intestinal enterocytes. The Myo6 gene is thought to be involved in a wide range of physiological functions such as hearing, vision, and clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Bats (Chiroptera) represent one of the most fascinating mammal groups for molecular evolutionary studies of the Myo6 gene. A diversity of specialized adaptations occur among different bat lineages, such as echolocation and associated high-frequency hearing in laryngeal echolocating bats, large eyes and a strong dependence on vision in Old World fruit bats (Pteropodidae), and specialized high-carbohydrate but low-nitrogen diets in both Old World and New World fruit bats (Phyllostomidae). To investigate what role(s) the Myo6 gene might fulfill in bats, we sequenced the coding region of the Myo6 gene in 15 bat species and used molecular evolutionary analyses to detect evidence of positive selection in different bat lineages. We also conducted real-time PCR assays to explore the expression levels of Myo6 in a range of tissues from three representative bat species. Molecular evolutionary analyses revealed that the Myo6 gene, which was widely considered as a hearing gene, has undergone adaptive evolution in the Old World fruit bats which lack laryngeal echolocation and associated high-frequency hearing. Real-time PCR showed the highest expression level of the Myo6 gene in the kidney among ten tissues examined in three bat species, indicating an important role for this gene in kidney function. We suggest that Myo6 has undergone adaptive evolution in Old World fruit bats in relation to receptor-mediated endocytosis for the preservation of protein and essential nutrients.

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