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      Widespread Presence of Human BOULE Homologs among Animals and Conservation of Their Ancient Reproductive Function

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          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.

          Abstract

          Sex-specific traits that lead to the production of dimorphic gametes, sperm in males and eggs in females, are fundamental for sexual reproduction and accordingly widespread among animals. Yet the sex-biased genes that underlie these sex-specific traits are under strong selective pressure, and as a result of adaptive evolution they often become divergent. Indeed out of hundreds of male or female fertility genes identified in diverse organisms, only a very small number of them are implicated specifically in reproduction in more than one lineage. Few genes have exhibited a sex-biased, reproductive-specific requirement beyond a given phylum, raising the question of whether any sex-specific gametogenesis factors could be conserved and whether gametogenesis might have evolved multiple times. Here we describe a metazoan origin of a conserved human reproductive protein, BOULE, and its prevalence from primitive basal metazoans to chordates. We found that BOULE homologs are present in the genomes of representative species of each of the major lineages of metazoans and exhibit reproductive-specific expression in all species examined, with a preponderance of male-biased expression. Examination of Boule evolution within insect and mammalian lineages revealed little evidence for accelerated evolution, unlike most reproductive genes. Instead, purifying selection was the major force behind Boule evolution. Furthermore, loss of function of mammalian Boule resulted in male-specific infertility and a global arrest of sperm development remarkably similar to the phenotype in an insect boule mutation. This work demonstrates the conservation of a reproductive protein throughout eumetazoa, its predominant testis-biased expression in diverse bilaterian species, and conservation of a male gametogenic requirement in mice. This shows an ancient gametogenesis requirement for Boule among Bilateria and supports a model of a common origin of spermatogenesis.

          Author Summary

          While sexual reproduction is widespread among animals, it remains enigmatic to what extent sexual reproduction is conserved and when sex-specific gametogenesis (spermatogenesis and oogenesis) originated in animals. Here we demonstrate the presence of the reproductive-specific protein Boule throughout bilaterally-symmetric animals (Bilateria) and the conservation of its male reproductive function in mice. Examination of Boule evolution in insect and mammalian lineages, representing the Protostome and Deuterostome clades of bilateral animals, failed to detect any evidence for accelerated evolution. Instead, purifying selection is the major force behind Boule evolution. Further investigation of Boule homologs among Deuterostome species revealed reproduction-specific expression, with a strong prevalence of testis-biased expression. We further determined the function of a deuterostomian Boule homolog by inactivating Boule in mice (a representative mammal, a class of Deuterostomes). Like its counterpart in Drosophila (a representative of the opposing Protostome clade), mouse Boule is also required only for male reproduction. Loss of mouse Boule prevents sperm production, resulting in a global arrest of spermatogenesis in remarkable similarity to that of Drosophila boule mutants. Our findings are consistent with a common origin for male gametogenesis among metazoans and reveal the high conservation of a reproduction-specific protein among bilaterian animals.

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          Most cited references 76

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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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            Sea anemone genome reveals ancestral eumetazoan gene repertoire and genomic organization.

            Sea anemones are seemingly primitive animals that, along with corals, jellyfish, and hydras, constitute the oldest eumetazoan phylum, the Cnidaria. Here, we report a comparative analysis of the draft genome of an emerging cnidarian model, the starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis. The sea anemone genome is complex, with a gene repertoire, exon-intron structure, and large-scale gene linkage more similar to vertebrates than to flies or nematodes, implying that the genome of the eumetazoan ancestor was similarly complex. Nearly one-fifth of the inferred genes of the ancestor are eumetazoan novelties, which are enriched for animal functions like cell signaling, adhesion, and synaptic transmission. Analysis of diverse pathways suggests that these gene "inventions" along the lineage leading to animals were likely already well integrated with preexisting eukaryotic genes in the eumetazoan progenitor.
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              The rapid evolution of reproductive proteins.

              Many genes that mediate sexual reproduction, such as those involved in gamete recognition, diverge rapidly, often as a result of adaptive evolution. This widespread phenomenon might have important consequences, such as the establishment of barriers to fertilization that might lead to speciation. Sequence comparisons and functional studies are beginning to show the extent to which the rapid divergence of reproductive proteins is involved in the speciation process.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS Genet
                plos
                plosgen
                PLoS Genetics
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1553-7390
                1553-7404
                July 2010
                July 2010
                15 July 2010
                : 6
                : 7
                Affiliations
                Division of Reproductive Biology Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Center for Genetic Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
                University of Washington, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: EYX. Performed the experiments: CS MJWV VN YC TL NA YW EYX. Analyzed the data: CS MJWV NA EYX. Wrote the paper: EYX. Contributed to the manuscript revision: MJWV.

                Article
                10-PLGE-RA-2355R2
                10.1371/journal.pgen.1001022
                2904765
                20657660
                Shah et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 16
                Categories
                Research Article
                Evolutionary Biology/Animal Genetics
                Evolutionary Biology/Developmental Evolution
                Evolutionary Biology/Evolutionary and Comparative Genetics
                Evolutionary Biology/Sexual Behavior
                Genetics and Genomics
                Genetics and Genomics/Disease Models
                Genetics and Genomics/Population Genetics

                Genetics

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