Comparative analysis of testis protein evolution in rodents.
ABSTRACT: 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.
Project description:The genus Peromyscus represents a rapidly diverged clade of Cricetid rodents that contains multiple cryptic species and has a propensity for morphologic conservation across its members. The unresolved relationships in previously proposed phylogenies reflect a suspected rapid adaptive radiation. To identify functional groups of genes that may be important in reproductive isolation in a reoccurring fashion across the Peromyscus phylogeny, liver and testis transcriptomes from four species (P. attwateri, P. boylii, P. leucopus, and P. maniculatus) were generated and differential expression (DE) tests were conducted. Taxa were selected to represent members diverged from a common ancestor: P. attwateri + P. boylii (clade A), and P. leucopus + P. maniculatus (clade B). Comparison of clades (A vs. B) suggested that 252 transcripts had significant DE in the liver data set, whereas significant DE was identified for 657 transcripts in the testis data set. Further, 45 genes had DE isoforms in the 657 testis transcripts and most of these functioned in major reproductive roles such as acrosome assembly, spermatogenesis, and cell cycle processes (meiosis). DE transcripts in the liver mapped to more broad gene ontology terms (metabolic processes, catabolic processes, response to chemical, and regulatory processes), and DE transcripts in the testis mapped to gene ontology terms associated with reproductive processes, such as meiosis, sperm motility, acrosome assembly, and sperm-egg fusion. These results suggest that a suite of genes that conduct similar functions in the testes may be responsible for the adaptive radiation events and potential reoccurring speciation of Peromyscus in terms of reproduction through varying expression levels.
Project description: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.
Project description:PKDREJ is a testis-specific protein thought to be located on the sperm surface. Functional studies in the mouse revealed that loss of PKDREJ has effects on sperm transport and the ability to undergo an induced acrosome reaction. Thus, PKDREJ has been considered a potential target of post-copulatory sexual selection in the form of sperm competition. Proteins involved in reproductive processes often show accelerated evolution. In many cases, this rapid divergence is promoted by positive selection which may be driven, at least in part, by post-copulatory sexual selection. We analysed the evolution of the PKDREJ protein in primates and rodents and assessed whether PKDREJ divergence is associated with testes mass relative to body mass, which is a reliable proxy of sperm competition levels. Evidence of an association between the evolutionary rate of the PKDREJ gene and testes mass relative to body mass was not found in primates. Among rodents, evidence of positive selection was detected in the Pkdrej gene in the family Cricetidae but not in Muridae. We then assessed whether Pkdrej divergence is associated with episodes of sperm competition in these families. We detected a positive significant correlation between the evolutionary rates of Pkdrej and testes mass relative to body mass in cricetids. These findings constitute the first evidence of post-copulatory sexual selection influencing the evolution of a protein that participates in the mechanisms regulating sperm transport and the acrosome reaction, strongly suggesting that positive selection may act on these fertilization steps, leading to advantages in situations of sperm competition.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Sperm and testes-expressed Adam genes have been shown to undergo bouts of positive selection in mammals. Despite the pervasiveness of positive selection signals, it is unclear what has driven such selective bouts. The fact that only sperm surface Adam genes show signals of positive selection within their adhesion domain has led to speculation that selection might be driven by species-specific adaptations to fertilization or sperm competition. Alternatively, duplications and neofunctionalization of Adam sperm surface genes, particularly as it is now understood in rodents, might have contributed to an acceleration of evolutionary rates and possibly adaptive diversification. RESULTS:Here we sequenced and conducted tests of selection within the adhesion domain of sixteen known sperm-surface Adam genes among five species of the Mus genus. We find evidence of positive selection associated with all six Adam genes known to interact to form functional complexes on Mus sperm. A subset of these complex-forming sperm genes also displayed accelerated branch evolution with Adam5 evolving under positive selection. In contrast to our previous findings in primates, selective bouts within Mus sperm Adams showed no associations to proxies of sperm competition. Expanded phylogenetic analysis including sequence data from other placental mammals allowed us to uncover ancient and recent episodes of adaptive evolution. CONCLUSIONS:The prevailing signals of rapid divergence and positive selection detected within the adhesion domain of interacting sperm Adams is driven by duplications and potential neofunctionalizations that are in some cases ancient (Adams 2, 3 and 5) or more recent (Adams 1b, 4b and 6).
Project description:Sexual selection can explain the rapid evolution of fertilization proteins, yet sperm proteins evolve rapidly even if not directly involved in fertilization. In the marine mollusk abalone, sperm secrete enormous quantities of two rapidly evolving proteins, lysin and sp18, that are stored at nearly molar concentrations. We demonstrate that this extraordinary packaging is achieved by associating into Fuzzy Interacting Transient Zwitterion (FITZ) complexes upon binding the intrinsically disordered FITZ Anionic Partner (FITZAP). FITZ complexes form at intracellular ionic strengths and, upon exocytosis into seawater, lysin and sp18 are dispersed to drive fertilization. NMR analyses revealed that lysin uses a common molecular interface to bind both FITZAP and its egg receptor VERL. As sexual selection alters the lysin-VERL interface, FITZAP coevolves rapidly to maintain lysin binding. FITZAP-lysin interactions exhibit a similar species-specificity as lysin-VERL interactions. Thus, tethered molecular arms races driven by sexual selection can generally explain rapid sperm protein evolution.
Project description:Proteins involved in reproductive fitness have evolved unusually rapidly across diverse groups of organisms. These reproductive proteins show unusually high rates of amino acid substitutions, suggesting that the proteins have been subject to positive selection. We sought to identify seminal fluid proteins experiencing adaptive evolution because such proteins are often involved in sperm competition, host immunity to pathogens, and manipulation of female reproductive physiology and behavior. We performed an evolutionary screen of the mouse prostate transcriptome for genes with elevated evolutionary rates between mouse and rat. We observed that secreted rodent prostate proteins evolve approximately twice as fast as nonsecreted proteins, remarkably similar to findings in the primate prostate and in the Drosophila male accessory gland. Our screen led us to identify and characterize a group of seminal vesicle secretion (Svs) proteins and to show that the gene Svs7 is evolving very rapidly, with many amino acid sites under positive selection. Another gene in this group, Svs5, showed evidence of branch-specific selection in the rat. We also found that Svs7 is under selection in primates and, by using three-dimensional models, demonstrated that the same regions have been under selection in both groups. Svs7 has been identified as mouse caltrin, a protein involved in sperm capacitation, the process responsible for the timing of changes in sperm activity and behavior, following ejaculation. We propose that the most likely explanation of the adaptive evolution of Svs7 that we have observed in rodents and primates stems from an important function in sperm competition.
Project description:Sperm competition is a pervasive selective force in evolution, shaping reproductive anatomy, physiology and behaviour. Here, we present comparative evidence that varying sperm competition levels account for variation in the male reproductive anatomy of rodents, the largest and most diverse mammalian order. We focus on the sperm-producing testes and the accessory reproductive glands, which produce the seminal fluid fraction of the ejaculate. We demonstrate a positive association between relative testis size and the prevalence of within-litter multiple paternity, consistent with previous analyses in which relative testis size has been found to correlate with sperm competition levels inferred from social organization and mating systems. We further demonstrate an association between sperm competition level and the relative size of at least two accessory reproductive glands: the seminal vesicles and anterior prostate. The size of the major product of these glands-the copulatory plug-is also found to vary with sperm competition level. Our findings thus suggest that selection for larger plugs under sperm competition may explain variation in accessory gland size, and highlight the need to consider both sperm and non-sperm components of the male ejaculate in the context of post-copulatory sexual selection.
Project description:Most genes linked to male reproductive function have been known to evolve rapidly among species and to show signatures of positive selection. Different male species-specific reproductive strategies have been proposed to underlie positive selection, such as sperm competitive advantage and control over females postmating physiology. However, an underexplored aspect potentially affecting male reproductive gene evolution in mammals is the effect of gene duplications. Here we analyze the molecular evolution of members of the izumo gene family in mammals, a family of four genes mostly expressed in the sperm with known and potential roles in sperm-egg fusion. We confirm a previously reported bout of selection for izumo1 and establish that the bout of selection is restricted to the diversification of species of the superorder Laurasiatheria. None of the izumo genes showed evidence of positive selection in Glires (Rodentia and Lagomorpha), and in the case of the non-testes-specific izumo4, rapid evolution was driven by relaxed selection. We detected evidence of positive selection for izumo3 among Primates. Interestingly, positively selected sites include several serine residues suggesting modifications in protein function and/or localization among Primates. Our results suggest that positive selection is driven by aspects related to species-specific adaptations to fertilization rather than sexual selection.
Project description:An extensive array of reproductive traits varies among species, yet the genetic mechanisms that enable divergence, often over short evolutionary timescales, remain elusive. Here we examine two sister-species of Peromyscus mice with divergent mating systems. We find that the promiscuous species produces sperm with longer midpiece than the monogamous species, and midpiece size correlates positively with competitive ability and swimming performance. Using forward genetics, we identify a gene associated with midpiece length: Prkar1a, which encodes the R1? regulatory subunit of PKA. R1? localizes to midpiece in Peromyscus and is differentially expressed in mature sperm of the two species yet is similarly abundant in the testis. We also show that genetic variation at this locus accurately predicts male reproductive success. Our findings suggest that rapid evolution of reproductive traits can occur through cell type-specific changes to ubiquitously expressed genes and have an important effect on fitness.
Project description:It is the differences between sperm and eggs that fundamentally underpin the differences between the sexes within reproduction. For males, it is theorized that widespread sperm competition leads to selection for investment in sperm numbers, achieved by minimizing sperm size within limited resources for spermatogenesis in the testis. Here, we empirically examine how sperm competition shapes sperm size, after more than 77 generations of experimental selection of replicate lines under either high or low sperm competition intensities in the promiscuous flour beetle Tribolium castaneum. After this experimental evolution, populations had diverged significantly in their sperm competitiveness, with sperm in ejaculates from males evolving under high sperm competition intensities gaining 20% greater paternity than sperm in ejaculates from males that had evolved under low sperm competition intensity. Males did not change their relative investment into sperm production following this experimental evolution, showing no difference in testis sizes between high and low intensity regimes. However, the more competitive males from high sperm competition intensity regimes had evolved significantly longer sperm and, across six independently selected lines, there was a significant association between the degree of divergence in sperm length and average sperm competitiveness. To determine whether such sperm elongation is costly, we used dietary restriction experiments, and revealed that protein-restricted males produced significantly shorter sperm. Our findings therefore demonstrate that sperm competition intensity can exert positive directional selection on sperm size, despite this being a costly reproductive trait.