Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 738-744

First online:

Rapid Adaptive Evolution of the Tumor Suppressor Gene Pten in an Insect Lineage

  • E. BaudryAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of RochesterLaboratoire Laboratoire Ecologie, Systematique et Evolution, Université Paris-Sud Email author 
  • , M. DesmadrilAffiliated withInstitut de biochimie et de biophysique moléculaire et cellulaire, Université Paris-Sud
  • , J.H. WerrenAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Rochester

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The Pten gene was initially identified in humans as a tumor suppressor. It has since been shown to play important roles in the control of cell size, cell motility, apoptosis, and organ size, and it has also been implicated in aging. Pten is highly conserved among organisms as diverse as nematodes, insects, and vertebrates. In contrast, a phylogenetic analysis by maximum likelihood of a 133-amino acid region showed an average nonsynonymous-to-synonymous rate ratio of 10.4 for Pten in the lineage leading to parasitoid wasps of the Nasonia genus, indicating very strong positive selection. A previous study identified Pten as a potential QTL candidate gene for differences in male wing size in Nasonia. Most of the amino acid replacements that occurred in the Nasonia lineage cluster in a small region of the protein surface, suggesting that they might be involved in an interaction between Pten and another protein. The phenotypic changes due to Pten are not yet known, although it is not associated with known differences in male wing size. Introgression of Pten from one species to another does affect longevity, but a causal relationship is not established.


Positive selection Pten Nasonia Cancer genes Aging