Genes of the DAZ (Deleted in AZoospermia) gene family, DAZ, DAZL (DAZ-Like), and BOULE, encode closely related RNA-binding proteins that are required for fertility in numerous organisms, yet the genomes of different organisms possess different complements of DAZ family genes. Thus, invertebrates such as flies and worms contain just a single DAZ homolog, boule, while genomes of vertebrates, other than catarrhine primates (Old World monkeys and hominids), possess both Boule and Daz genes. Finally, catarrhine primates possess BOULE, DAZL, and DAZ genes. Since the DAZ genes arose recently in evolution in the catarrhine lineage, we sought to examine how the sequences and expression of this gene family may have changed after the introduction of a new member, DAZ. Based on previous results, we hypothesized that the introduction of a new member of the DAZ gene family into catarrhines could reduce functional constraint on DAZL. Surprisingly, however, we found that platyrrhine DAZL demonstrated significantly more sequence divergence than catarrhine DAZL (p=0.0006 for nucleotide and p=0.05 for amino acid sequence); however, comparison of Ka/Ks ratios suggests that the DAZL and BOULE genes are under similar functional constraints regardless of lineage. Thus, our data are most consistent with the hypothesis that the introduction of DAZ did not affect the evolution of DAZL or BOULE, and that a higher neutral mutation rate in platyrrhines than in catarrhines, along with the greater tolerance of DAZL for variation relative to BOULE, may be the foundation for the observed differences in sequence divergence in this gene family.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology