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Mol Biol Evol. 1995 Mar;12(2):231-8.

Positive selection is a general phenomenon in the evolution of abalone sperm lysin.

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Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, LaJolla 92093-0202.


Lysin is a 16kDa acrosomal protein used by abalone sperm to create a hole in the egg vitelline envelope (VE). The interaction of lysin with the VE is species-selective and is one step in the multistep fertilization process that restricts heterospecific (cross-species) fertilization. For this reason, the evolution of lysin could play a role in establishing prezygotic reproductive isolation between species. Previously, we sequenced sperm lysin cDNAs from seven California abalone species and showed that positive Darwinian selection promotes their divergence. In this paper an additional 13 lysin sequences are presented representing species from Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Europe. The total of 20 sequences represents the most extensive analysis of a fertilization protein to date. The phylogenetic analysis divides the sequences into two major clades, one composed of species from the northern Pacific (California and Japan) and the other composed of species from other parts of the world. Analysis of nucleotide substitution demonstrates that positive selection is a general process in the evolution of this fertilization protein. Analysis of nucleotide and codon usage bias shows that neither parameter can account for the robust data supporting positive selection. The selection pressure responsible for the positive selection on lysin remains unknown.

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