Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 299–312

Evolution of the bovine lysozyme gene family: Changes in gene expression and reversion of function

  • David M. Irwin


Recruitment of lysozyme to a digestive function in ruminant artiodactyls is associated with amplification of the gene. At least four of the approximately ten genes are expressed in the stomach, and several are expressed in nonstomach tissues. Characterization of additional lysozymelike sequences in the bovine genome has identified most, if not all, of the members of this gene family. There are at least six stomachlike lysozyme genes, two of which are pseudogenes. The stomach lysozyme pseudogenes show a pattern of concerted evolution similar to that of the functional stomach genes. At least four nonstomach lysozyme genes exist. The nonstomach lysozyme genes are not monophyletic. A gene encoding a tracheal lysozyme was isolated, and the stomach lysozyme of advanced ruminants was found to be more closely related to the tracheal lysozyme than to the stomach lysozyme of the camel or other nonstomach lysozyme genes of ruminants. The tracheal lysozyme shares with stomach lysozymes of advanced ruminants the deletion of amino acid 103, and several other adaptive sequence characteristics of stomach lysozymes. I suggest here that tracheal lysozyme has reverted from a functional stomach lysozyme. Tracheal lysozyme then represents a second instance of a change in lysozyme gene expression and function within ruminants.

Key words

Multigene family Gene duplication Concerted evolution Regulatory evolution Adaptive evolution Pseudogenes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Irwin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Clinical BiochemistryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Banting and Diabetes Best CentreUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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