Does Hybridization Increase Evolutionary Rate? Data from the 28S-rDNA D8 Domain in Echinoderms
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- Chenuil, A., Egea, E., Rocher, C. et al. J Mol Evol (2008) 67: 539. doi:10.1007/s00239-008-9171-8
The divergent domain D8 of the large ribosomal RNA is very variable and extended in vertebrates compared to other eukaryotes. We provide data from 31 species of echinoderms and present the first comparative analysis of the D8 in nonvertebrate deuterostomes. In addition, we obtained 16S mitochondrial DNA sequences for the sea urchin taxa and analyzed single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) of D8 in several populations within the species complex Echinocardium cordatum. A common secondary structure supported by compensatory substitutions and indels is inferred for echinoderms. Variation mostly arises at the tip of the longest stem (D8a), and the most variable taxa also display the longest and most stable D8. The most stable variants are the only ones displaying bulges in the terminal part of the stem, suggesting that selection, rather than maximizing stability of the D8 secondary structure, maintains it in a given range. Striking variation in D8 evolutionary rates was evidenced among sea urchins, by comparison with both 16S mitochondrial DNA and paleontological data. In Echinocardium cordatum and Strongylocentrotus pallidus and S. droebachiensis, belonging to very distant genera, the increase in D8 evolutionary rate is extreme. Their highly stable D8 secondary structures rule out the possibility of pseudogenes. These taxa are the only ones in which interspecific hybridization was reported. We discuss how evolutionary rates may be affected in nuclear relative to mitochondrial genes after hybridization, by selective or mutational processes such as gene silencing and concerted evolution.