Adaptive evolution of fertilization proteins within a genus: variation in ZP2 and ZP3 in deer mice (Peromyscus)

Leslie M. Turner, Hopi E. Hoekstra

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62 Citations (SciVal)


Rapid evolution of reproductive proteins has been documented in a wide variety of taxa. In internally fertilized species, knowledge about the evolutionary dynamics of these proteins between closely related taxa is primarily limited to accessory gland proteins in the semen of Drosophila. Investigation of additional taxa and functional classes of proteins is necessary in order to determine if there is a general pattern of adaptive evolution of reproductive proteins between recently diverged species. We performed an evolutionary analysis of 2 egg coat proteins, ZP2 and ZP3, in 15 species of deer mice (genus Peromyscus). Both of these proteins are involved in egg-sperm binding, a critical step in maintaining species-specific fertilization. Here, we show that Zp2 and Zp3 gene trees are not consistent with trees based on nonreproductive genes, Mc1r and Lcat, where species formed monophyletic clades. In fact, for both of the reproductive genes, intraspecific amino acid variation was extensive and alleles were sometimes shared across species. We document positive selection acting on ZP2 and ZP3 and identify specific amino acid sites that are likely targets of selection using both maximum likelihood approaches and patterns of parallel amino acid change. In ZP3, positively selected sites are clustered in and around the region implicated in sperm binding in Mus, suggesting changes may impact egg-sperm binding and fertilization potential. Finally, we identify lineages with significantly elevated rates of amino acid substitution using a Bayesian mapping approach. These findings demonstrate that the pattern of adaptive reproductive protein evolution found at higher taxonomic levels can be documented between closely related mammalian species, where reproductive isolation has evolved recently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1656-1669
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Egg Proteins
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Fertilization
  • Genetic Variation
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Mapping
  • Peromyscus
  • Phylogeny
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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