Newly created genes often acquire testis-specific or enhanced expression but neither the mechanisms responsible for this specificity nor the functional consequences of these evolutionary processes are well understood. Genomic analyses of the Drosophila melanogaster sperm proteome has identified 2 recently evolved gene families on the melanogaster lineage and 4 genes created by retrotransposition during the evolution of the melanogaster group that encode novel sperm components. The expanded Mst35B (protamine) and tektin gene families are the result of tandem duplication events with all family members displaying testis-specific expression. The Mst35B family encodes rapidly evolving protamines that display a robust signature of positive selection within the DNA-binding high-mobility group box consistent with functional diversification in genome repackaging during sperm nuclear remodeling. The Mst35B paralogs also reside in a significant regional cluster of testis-overexpressed genes. Tektins, known components of the axoneme, are encoded by 3 nearly identical X-linked genes, a finding consistent with very recent gene family expansion. In addition to localized duplication events, the evolution of the sperm proteome has also been driven by recent retrotransposition events resulting in Cdlc2, CG13340, Vha36, and CG4706. Cdlc2, CG13340, and Vha36 all display high levels of overexpression in the testis, and Cdlc2 and CG13340 reside within testis-overexpressed gene clusters. Thus, gene creation is a dynamic force in the evolution of sperm composition and possibly function, which further suggests that acquisition of molecular functionality in sperm may be an influential pathway in the fixation of new genes.
- Gene duplication
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology