Comparative analysis of testis protein evolution in rodents

Leslie M. Turner, Edward B. Chuong, Hopi E. Hoekstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (SciVal)


Genes expressed in testes are critical to male reproductive success, affecting spermatogenesis, sperm competition, and sperm-egg interaction. Comparing the evolution of testis proteins at different taxonomic levels can reveal which genes and functional classes are targets of natural and sexual selection and whether the same genes are targets among taxa. Here we examine the evolution of testis-expressed proteins at different levels of divergence among three rodents, mouse (Mus musculus), rat (Rattus norvegicus), and deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), to identify rapidly evolving genes. Comparison of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from testes suggests that proteins with testis-specific expression evolve more rapidly on average than proteins with maximal expression in other tissues. Genes with the highest rates of evolution have a variety of functional roles including signal transduction, DNA binding, and egg-sperm interaction. Most of these rapidly evolving genes have not been identified previously as targets of selection in comparisons among more divergent mammals. To determine if these genes are evolving rapidly among closely related species, we sequenced 11 of these genes in six Peromyscus species and found evidence for positive selection in five of them. Together, these results demonstrate rapid evolution of functionally diverse testis-expressed proteins in rodents, including the identification of amino acids under lineage-specific selection in Peromyscus. Evidence for positive selection among closely related species suggests that changes in these proteins may have consequences for reproductive isolation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2075-2089
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Expressed Sequence Tags
  • Genome
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peromyscus
  • Proteins
  • Rats
  • Rodentia
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Testis
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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