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Title

Sexual selection halts the relaxation of protamine 2 among rodents

AuthorsLüke, Lena; Vicens, Alberto; Serra, François; Luque-Larena, Juan José; Dopazo, Hernán; Roldán, Eduardo R. S. ; Gomendio, Montserrat
Issue Date11-Dec-2011
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 6(12): e29247 (2011)
AbstractSexual selection has been proposed as the driving force promoting the rapid evolutionary changes observed in some reproductive genes including protamines. We test this hypothesis in a group of rodents which show marked differences in the intensity of sexual selection. Levels of sperm competition were not associated with the evolutionary rates of protamine 1 but, contrary to expectations, were negatively related to the evolutionary rate of cleaved- and mature-protamine 2. Since both domains were found to be under relaxation, our findings reveal an unforeseen role of sexual selection: to halt the degree of degeneration that proteins within families may experience due to functional redundancy. The degree of relaxation of protamine 2 in this group of rodents is such that in some species it has become dysfunctional and it is not expressed in mature spermatozoa. In contrast, protamine 1 is functionally conserved but shows directed positive selection on specific sites which are functionally relevant such as DNA-anchoring domains and phosphorylation sites. We conclude that in rodents protamine 2 is under relaxation and that sexual selection removes deleterious mutations among species with high levels of sperm competition to maintain the protein functional and the spermatozoa competitive. © 2011 Lüke et al.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/128758
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0029247
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029247
e-issn: 1932-6203
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