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      Evolution of a Large, Conserved, and Syntenic Gene Family in Insects

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          The Osiris gene family, first described in Drosophila melanogaster, is clustered in the genomes of all Drosophila species sequenced to date. In D. melanogaster, it explains the enigmatic phenomenon of the triplo-lethal and haploinsufficient locus Tpl. The synteny of Osiris genes in flies is well conserved, and it is one of the largest syntenic blocks in the Drosophila group. By examining the genome sequences of other insects in a wide range of taxonomic orders, we show here that the gene family is well-conserved and syntenic not only in the diptera but across the holometabolous and hemimetabolous insects. Osiris gene homologs have also been found in the expressed sequence tag sequences of various other insects but are absent from all groups that are not insects, including crustacea and arachnids. It is clear that the gene family evolved by gene duplication and neofunctionalization very soon after the divergence of the insects from other arthropods but before the divergence of the insects from one another and that the sequences and synteny have been maintained by selection ever since.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Evolution of genes and genomes on the Drosophila phylogeny.

          Comparative analysis of multiple genomes in a phylogenetic framework dramatically improves the precision and sensitivity of evolutionary inference, producing more robust results than single-genome analyses can provide. The genomes of 12 Drosophila species, ten of which are presented here for the first time (sechellia, simulans, yakuba, erecta, ananassae, persimilis, willistoni, mojavensis, virilis and grimshawi), illustrate how rates and patterns of sequence divergence across taxa can illuminate evolutionary processes on a genomic scale. These genome sequences augment the formidable genetic tools that have made Drosophila melanogaster a pre-eminent model for animal genetics, and will further catalyse fundamental research on mechanisms of development, cell biology, genetics, disease, neurobiology, behaviour, physiology and evolution. Despite remarkable similarities among these Drosophila species, we identified many putatively non-neutral changes in protein-coding genes, non-coding RNA genes, and cis-regulatory regions. These may prove to underlie differences in the ecology and behaviour of these diverse species.
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            The genome of the model beetle and pest Tribolium castaneum.

            Tribolium castaneum is a member of the most species-rich eukaryotic order, a powerful model organism for the study of generalized insect development, and an important pest of stored agricultural products. We describe its genome sequence here. This omnivorous beetle has evolved the ability to interact with a diverse chemical environment, as shown by large expansions in odorant and gustatory receptors, as well as P450 and other detoxification enzymes. Development in Tribolium is more representative of other insects than is Drosophila, a fact reflected in gene content and function. For example, Tribolium has retained more ancestral genes involved in cell-cell communication than Drosophila, some being expressed in the growth zone crucial for axial elongation in short-germ development. Systemic RNA interference in T. castaneum functions differently from that in Caenorhabditis elegans, but nevertheless offers similar power for the elucidation of gene function and identification of targets for selective insect control.
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              Sequencing of Culex quinquefasciatus establishes a platform for mosquito comparative genomics.

              Culex quinquefasciatus (the southern house mosquito) is an important mosquito vector of viruses such as West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis virus, as well as of nematodes that cause lymphatic filariasis. C. quinquefasciatus is one species within the Culex pipiens species complex and can be found throughout tropical and temperate climates of the world. The ability of C. quinquefasciatus to take blood meals from birds, livestock, and humans contributes to its ability to vector pathogens between species. Here, we describe the genomic sequence of C. quinquefasciatus: Its repertoire of 18,883 protein-coding genes is 22% larger than that of Aedes aegypti and 52% larger than that of Anopheles gambiae with multiple gene-family expansions, including olfactory and gustatory receptors, salivary gland genes, and genes associated with xenobiotic detoxification.

                Author and article information

                G3 (Bethesda)
                G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics
                Genetics Society of America
                1 February 2012
                February 2012
                : 2
                : 2
                : 313-319
                [* ]Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0115
                []Division of Mathematics & Sciences, Martin Methodist College, Pulaski, Tennessee 38478-2716
                []Center for Plant Science Innovation
                [§ ]School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0666
                Author notes

                Supporting information is available online at

                [1 ]Corresponding author: School of Biological Sciences, E249 Beadle Center, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0666. E-mail: achristensen2@
                Copyright © 2012 Shah et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Unported License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                triplo-lethal, osiris, insect, gene family, gene duplication, synteny


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