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Mol Biol Evol. 1996 Feb;13(2):397-406.

Positive selection and sequence rearrangements generate extensive polymorphism in the gamete recognition protein bindin.

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Department of Zoology, University of Hawaii, USA.


Bindin is a gamete recognition protein of sea urchins that mediates species-specific attachment of sperm to an egg-surface receptor during fertilization. Sequences of bindin from closely related urchins show fixed species-specific differences. Within species, highly polymorphic bindin alleles result from point substitution, insertion/deletion, and recombination. Since speciation, positive selection favoring allelic variants has generated diversity in bindin polypeptides. Intraspecific bindin variation can be tolerated by the egg receptor, which suggests functional parallels between this system and other flexible recognition systems, including immune recognition. These results show that polymorphism in mate recognition loci required for rapid evolution of sexual isolation can arise within natural populations.

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