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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 630803, 11 pages
Research Article

Dynamic Actin Gene Family Evolution in Primates

1Institute of System Biology, Shanghai University, Shanghai 200444, China
2Yangzhou Breeding Biological Agriculture Technology Co. Ltd., Yangzhou 225200, China
3School of Life Sciences, Shanghai University, Shanghai 200444, China
4State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China

Received 10 April 2013; Revised 17 May 2013; Accepted 18 May 2013

Academic Editor: Tao Huang

Copyright © 2013 Liucun Zhu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Actin is one of the most highly conserved proteins and plays crucial roles in many vital cellular functions. In most eukaryotes, it is encoded by a multigene family. Although the actin gene family has been studied a lot, few investigators focus on the comparison of actin gene family in relative species. Here, the purpose of our study is to systematically investigate characteristics and evolutionary pattern of actin gene family in primates. We identified 233 actin genes in human, chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, gibbon, rhesus monkey, and marmoset genomes. Phylogenetic analysis showed that actin genes in the seven species could be divided into two major types of clades: orthologous group versus complex group. Codon usages and gene expression patterns of actin gene copies were highly consistent among the groups because of basic functions needed by the organisms, but much diverged within species due to functional diversification. Besides, many great potential pseudogenes were found with incomplete open reading frames due to frameshifts or early stop codons. These results implied that actin gene family in primates went through “birth and death” model of evolution process. Under this model, actin genes experienced strong negative selection and increased the functional complexity by reproducing themselves.