The microevolution of V1r vomeronasal receptor genes in mice.
ABSTRACT: Vomeronasal sensitivity is important for detecting intraspecific pheromonal cues as well as environmental odorants and is involved in mating, social interaction, and other daily activities of many vertebrates. Two large families of seven-transmembrane G-protein-coupled receptors, V1rs and V2rs, bind to various ligands to initiate vomeronasal signal transduction. Although the macroevolution of V1r and V2r genes has been well characterized throughout vertebrates, especially mammals, little is known about their microevolutionary patterns, which hampers a clear understanding of the evolutionary forces behind the rapid evolutionary turnover of V1r and V2r genes and the great diversity in receptor repertoire across species. Furthermore, the role of divergent vomeronasal perception in enhancing premating isolation and maintaining species identity has not been evaluated. Here we sequenced 44 V1r genes and 25 presumably neutral noncoding regions in 14 wild-caught mice belonging to Mus musculus and M. domesticus, two closely related species with strong yet incomplete reproductive isolation. We found that nucleotide changes in V1rs are generally under weak purifying selection and that only ?5% of V1rs may have been subject to positive selection that promotes nonsynonymous substitutions. Consistent with the low functional constraints on V1rs, 18 of the 44 V1rs have null alleles segregating in one or both species. Together, our results demonstrate that, despite occasional actions of positive selection, the evolution of V1rs is in a large part shaped by purifying selection and random drift. These findings have broad implications for understanding the driving forces of rapid gene turnovers that are often observed in the evolution of large gene families.
Project description:We report an evolutionary analysis of the V1R gene family across 37 mammalian genomes. V1Rs comprise one of three chemosensory receptor families expressed in the vomeronasal organ, and contribute to pheromone detection. We first demonstrate that Trace Archive data can be used effectively to determine V1R family sizes and to obtain sequences of most V1R family members. Analyses of V1R sequences from trace data and genome assemblies show that species-specific expansions previously observed in only eight species were prevalent throughout mammalian evolution, resulting in "semi-private" V1R repertoires for most mammals. The largest families are found in mouse and platypus, whose V1R repertoires have been published previously, followed by mouse lemur and rabbit (approximately 215 and approximately 160 intact V1Rs, respectively). In contrast, two bat species and dolphin possess no functional V1Rs, only pseudogenes, and suffered inactivating mutations in the vomeronasal signal transduction gene Trpc2. We show that primate V1R decline happened prior to acquisition of trichromatic vision, earlier during evolution than was previously thought. We also show that it is extremely unlikely that decline of the dog V1R repertoire occurred in response to selective pressures imposed by humans during domestication. Functional repertoire sizes in each species correlate roughly with anatomical observations of vomeronasal organ size and quality; however, no single ecological correlate explains the very diverse fates of this gene family in different mammalian genomes. V1Rs provide one of the most extreme examples observed to date of massive gene duplication in some genomes, with loss of all functional genes in other species.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Vomeronasal type 1 receptor genes (V1Rs) are expected to detect intraspecific pheromones. It is believed that rodents rely heavily on pheromonal communication mediated by V1Rs, but pheromonal signals are thought to be confined in subterranean rodents that live in underground burrows. Thus, subterranean rodents may show a contrasting mode of V1R evolution compared with their superterranean relatives. RESULTS:We examined the V1R evolution in subterranean rodents by analyzing currently available genomes of 24 rodents, including 19 superterranean and 5 subterranean species from three independent lineages. We identified a lower number of putatively functional V1R genes in each subterranean rodent (a range of 22-40) compared with superterranean species (a range of 63-221). After correcting phylogenetic inertia, the positive correlation remains significant between the small V1R repertoire size and the subterranean lifestyle. To test whether V1Rs have been relaxed from functional constraints in subterranean rodents, we sequenced 22 intact V1Rs in 29 individuals of one subterranean rodent (Spalax galili) from two soil populations, which have been proposed to undergo incipient speciation. We found 12 of the 22 V1Rs to show significant genetic differentiations between the two natural populations, indicative of diversifying selection. CONCLUSION:Our study demonstrates convergent reduction of V1Rs in subterranean rodents from three independent lineages. Meanwhile, it is noteworthy that most V1Rs in the two Spalax populations are under diversifying selection rather than relaxed selection, suggesting that functional constraints on these genes may have retained in some subterranean species.
Project description:Sensory neurons expressing members of the seven-transmembrane V1r receptor superfamily allow mice to perceive pheromones. These receptors, which exhibit no sequence homology to any known protein except a weak similarity to taste receptors, have only been found in mammals. In the mouse, the V1r repertoire contains >150 members, which are expressed by neurons of the vomeronasal organ, a structure present exclusively in some tetrapod species. Here, we report the existence of a single V1r gene in multiple species of a non-terrestrial, vomeronasal organ-lacking taxon, the teleosts. In zebrafish, this V1r gene is expressed in chemosensory neurons of the olfactory rosette with a punctate distribution, strongly suggesting a role in chemodetection. This unique receptor gene exhibits a remarkably high degree of sequence variability between fish species. It likely corresponds to the original V1r present in the common ancestor of vertebrates, which led to the large and very diverse expansion of vertebrate pheromone receptor repertoires, and suggests the presence of V1rs in multiple nonmammalian phyla.
Project description:The vomeronasal organ (VNO) is an olfactory structure that detects pheromones and environmental cues. It consists of sensory neurons that express evolutionary unrelated groups of transmembrane chemoreceptors. The predominant V1R and V2R receptor repertoires are believed to detect airborne and water-soluble molecules, respectively. It has been suggested that the shift in habitat of early tetrapods from water to land is reflected by an increase in the ratio of V1R/V2R genes. Snakes, which have a very large VNO associated with a sophisticated tongue delivery system, are missing from this analysis. Here, we use RNA-seq and RNA in situ hybridization to study the diversity, evolution, and expression pattern of the corn snake vomeronasal receptor repertoires. Our analyses indicate that snakes and lizards retain an extremely limited number of V1R genes but exhibit a large number of V2R genes, including multiple lineages of reptile-specific and snake-specific expansions. We finally show that the peculiar bigenic pattern of V2R vomeronasal receptor gene transcription observed in mammals is conserved in squamate reptiles, hinting at an important but unknown functional role played by this expression strategy. Our results do not support the hypothesis that the shift to a vomeronasal receptor repertoire dominated by V1Rs in mammals reflects the evolutionary transition of early tetrapods from water to land. This study sheds light on the evolutionary dynamics of the vomeronasal receptor families in vertebrates and reveals how mammals and squamates differentially adapted the same ancestral vomeronasal repertoire to succeed in a terrestrial environment.
Project description:In mammals, social and reproductive behaviors are mediated by chemical cues encoded by hyperdiverse families of receptors expressed in the vomeronasal organ. Between species, the number of intact receptors can vary by orders of magnitude. However, the evolutionary processes behind variation in receptor number, and its link to fitness-related behaviors are not well understood. From vomeronasal transcriptomes, we discovered the first evidence of intact vomeronasal type-1 receptor (V1r) genes in bats, and we tested whether putatively functional bat receptors were orthologous to those of related taxa, or whether bats have evolved novel receptors. Instead of lineage-specific duplications, we found that bat V1rs show high levels of orthology to those of their relatives, and receptors are under comparative levels of purifying selection as non-bats. Despite widespread vomeronasal organ loss in bats, V1r copies have been retained for >65 million years. The highly conserved nature of bat V1rs challenges our current understanding of mammalian V1r function and suggests roles other than conspecific recognition or mating initiation in social behavior.
Project description:Two classes of vomeronasal receptor genes, V1R and V2R, occur in vertebrates. Whereas, V1R loci are found in a wide variety of mammals, including primates, intact V2R genes have thus far only been described in rodents and marsupials. In primates, the V2R repertoire has been considered degenerate. Here, we identify for the first time two intact V2R loci in a strepsirrhine primate, the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), and demonstrate their expression in the vomeronasal organ. Putatively functional orthologues are present in two other strepsirrhines, whereas, both loci are pseudogenes in a range of anthropoid species. The functional significance of the loci is unknown, but positive selection on one of them is consistent with an adaptive role in pheromone detection. Finally, conservation of V2R loci in strepsirrhines is notable, given their high diversity and role in MUP and MHC detection in rodents.
Project description:The V1R gene family comprises one of two types of putative pheromone receptors expressed in the mammalian vomeronasal organ (VNO). We searched the most recent mouse, rat, dog, chimpanzee, and human genome sequence assemblies to compile a near-complete repertoire of V1R genes for each species. Dog, human, and chimpanzee have very few intact V1Rs (8, 2, and 0, respectively) compared to more than a hundred intact V1Rs in each of the rat (106) and mouse (165) genomes. We also provide the first description of the diversity of V1R pseudogenes in these species. We identify at least 165 pseudogenes in mouse, 110 in rat, 102 in chimpanzee, 115 in human, and 54 in dog. Primate and dog pseudogenes are distributed among almost all V1R subfamilies seen in rodents, indicating that the common ancestor of these species had a diverse V1R repertoire. We find that V1R genes were subject to strikingly different fates in different species and in different subfamilies. In rodents, some subfamilies remained relatively stable or underwent roughly equivalent expansion in mouse and rat; other subfamilies expanded in one species but not the other. The small number of intact V1Rs in the dog genome is unexpected given the presumption that dogs, like rodents, have a functional VNO, and a complex system of pheromone-based behaviors. We identify an intact transient receptor potential channel 2beta in the dog genome, consistent with a functional VNO in dogs. The diminished V1R repertoire in dogs raises questions about the relative contributions of V1Rs versus other candidate pheromone receptor genes in the establishment of complex pheromone systems in mammals.
Project description:The vomeronasal organ (VNO) or Jacobson's organ is responsible in terrestrial vertebrates for the sensory perception of pheromones, chemicals that elicit stereotyped behaviors among individuals of the same species. Pheromone-induced behaviors and a functional VNO have been described in a number of mammals, but the existence of this sensory system in human is still debated. Recently, two nonhomologous gene families, V1R and V2R, encoding pheromone receptors have been identified in rat. These receptors belong to the seven-transmembrane domain G-protein-coupled receptor superfamily. We sought to characterize V1R-like genes in the human genome. We have identified seven different human sequences by PCR and library screening with rodent sequences. These human sequences exhibit characteristic features of V1R receptors and show 52%-59% of amino acid sequence identity with the rat sequences. Using PCR on a monochromosomal somatic cell hybrid panel and/or FISH, we demonstrate that these V1R-like sequences are distributed on chromosomes 7, 16, 20, 13, 14, 15, 21, and 22 and possibly on additional chromosomes. One sequence hybridizes to pericentromeric locations on all the acrocentric chromosomes (13, 14, 15, 21, and 22). All of the seven V1R-like sequences analyzed show interrupted reading frames, indicating that they represent nonfunctional pseudogenes. The preponderence of pseudogenes among human V1R sequences and the striking anatomical differences between rodent and human VNO raise the possibility that humans may have lost the V1R/VNO-mediated sensory functions of rodents.
Project description:A number of studies have suggested that olfaction plays an important role in fish migration. Fish use several distinct families of olfactory receptors to detect environmental odorants, including MORs (main olfactory receptors), V1Rs (vomeronasal type-1 receptors), V2Rs (vomeronasal type-2 receptors), TAARs (trace amine-associated receptors), and FPRs (formyl peptide receptors). The V1Rs have been reported to detect pheromones, and a pheromone hypothesis for the spawning migration of anadromous fish has been proposed. Examining whether Coilia nasus relies on V1R-mediated olfaction for spawning migration is important for understanding the molecular basis of spawning migration behavior. Here, we explored the V1R gene family in anadromous C. nasus. Six V1R genes previously reported in other teleost fish were successfully identified. Interestingly, we detected the largest V1R repertoire in teleost fish from C. nasus and identified a species-specific expansion event of V1R3 gene that has previously been detected as single-copy genes in other teleost fish. The V1R loci were found to be populated with repetitive sequences, especially in the expanded V1R3 genes. Additionally, the divergence of V1R3 genetic structures in different populations of C. nasus indicates the copy number variation (CNV) in V1R3 gene among individuals of C. nasus. Most of the putative C. nasus V1R genes were expressed primarily in the olfactory epithelium, consistent with the role of the gene products as functional olfactory receptors. Significant differences in the expression levels of V1R genes were detected between the anadromous and non-anadromous C. nasus. This study represents a first step in the elucidation of the olfactory communication system of C. nasus at the molecular level. Our results indicate that some V1R genes may be involved in the spawning migration of C. nasus, and the study provides new insights into the spawning migration and genome evolution of C. nasus.
Project description:Sensory gene families are of special interest for both what they can tell us about molecular evolution and what they imply as mediators of social communication. The vomeronasal type-1 receptors (V1Rs) have often been hypothesized as playing a fundamental role in driving or maintaining species boundaries given their likely function as mediators of intraspecific mate choice, particularly in nocturnal mammals. Here, we employ a comparative genomic approach for revealing patterns of V1R evolution within primates, with a special focus on the small-bodied nocturnal mouse and dwarf lemurs of Madagascar (genera Microcebus and Cheirogaleus, respectively). By doubling the existing genomic resources for strepsirrhine primates (i.e. the lemurs and lorises), we find that the highly speciose and morphologically cryptic mouse lemurs have experienced an elaborate proliferation of V1Rs that we argue is functionally related to their capacity for rapid lineage diversification. Contrary to a previous study that found equivalent degrees of V1R diversity in diurnal and nocturnal lemurs, our study finds a strong correlation between nocturnality and V1R elaboration, with nocturnal lemurs showing elaborate V1R repertoires and diurnal lemurs showing less diverse repertoires. Recognized subfamilies among V1Rs show unique signatures of diversifying positive selection, as might be expected if they have each evolved to respond to specific stimuli. Furthermore, a detailed syntenic comparison of mouse lemurs with mouse (genus Mus) and other mammalian outgroups shows that orthologous mammalian subfamilies, predicted to be of ancient origin, tend to cluster in a densely populated region across syntenic chromosomes that we refer to as a V1R "hotspot."