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Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 23;9(1):1215. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03667-1.

A genomics approach reveals insights into the importance of gene losses for mammalian adaptations.

Sharma V1,2,3, Hecker N1,2,3, Roscito JG1,2,3, Foerster L1,2,3, Langer BE1,2,3, Hiller M4,5,6.

Author information

1
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstr. 108, 01307, Dresden, Germany.
2
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Noethnitzer Str. 38, 01187, Dresden, Germany.
3
Center for Systems Biology Dresden, Pfotenhauerstr. 108, 01307, Dresden, Germany.
4
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstr. 108, 01307, Dresden, Germany. hiller@mpi.cbg.de.
5
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Noethnitzer Str. 38, 01187, Dresden, Germany. hiller@mpi.cbg.de.
6
Center for Systems Biology Dresden, Pfotenhauerstr. 108, 01307, Dresden, Germany. hiller@mpi.cbg.de.

Abstract

Identifying the genomic changes that underlie phenotypic adaptations is a key challenge in evolutionary biology and genomics. Loss of protein-coding genes is one type of genomic change with the potential to affect phenotypic evolution. Here, we develop a genomics approach to accurately detect gene losses and investigate their importance for adaptive evolution in mammals. We discover a number of gene losses that likely contributed to morphological, physiological, and metabolic adaptations in aquatic and flying mammals. These gene losses shed light on possible molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie these adaptive phenotypes. In addition, we show that gene loss events that occur as a consequence of relaxed selection following adaptation provide novel insights into species' biology. Our results suggest that gene loss is an evolutionary mechanism for adaptation that may be more widespread than previously anticipated. Hence, investigating gene losses has great potential to reveal the genomic basis underlying macroevolutionary changes.

PMID:
29572503
PMCID:
PMC5865188
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-018-03667-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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