, Volume 19, Issue 7-9, pp 451-458

The speciation of conger eel galectins by rapid adaptive evolution

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Many cases of accelerated evolution driven by positive Darwinian selection are identified in the genes of venomous and reproductive proteins. This evolutional phenomenon might have important consequences in their gene-products' functions, such as multiple specific toxins for quick immobilization of the prey and the establishment of barriers to fertilization that might lead to speciation, and in the molecular evolution of novel genes. Recently, we analyzed the molecular evolution of two galectins isolated from the skin mucus of conger eel (Conger myriaster), named congerins I and II, by cDNA cloning and X-ray structural analysis, and we found that they have evolved in the rapid adaptive manner to emergence of a new structure including strand-swapping and a unique new ligand-binding site. In this review article we summarize and discuss the molecular evolution, especially the rapid adaptive evolution, and the structure-function relationships of conger eel galectins. Published in 2004.