Table of Contents
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2012, Article ID 958164, 7 pages
Research Article

Positive Selection and the Evolution of izumo Genes in Mammals

Department of Biology, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3B 2E9

Received 18 May 2012; Accepted 4 July 2012

Academic Editor: Rob Kulathinal

Copyright © 2012 Phil Grayson and Alberto Civetta. 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.


Most genes linked to male reproductive function have been known to evolve rapidly among species and to show signatures of positive selection. Different male species-specific reproductive strategies have been proposed to underlie positive selection, such as sperm competitive advantage and control over females postmating physiology. However, an underexplored aspect potentially affecting male reproductive gene evolution in mammals is the effect of gene duplications. Here we analyze the molecular evolution of members of the izumo gene family in mammals, a family of four genes mostly expressed in the sperm with known and potential roles in sperm-egg fusion. We confirm a previously reported bout of selection for izumo1 and establish that the bout of selection is restricted to the diversification of species of the superorder Laurasiatheria. None of the izumo genes showed evidence of positive selection in Glires (Rodentia and Lagomorpha), and in the case of the non-testes-specific izumo4, rapid evolution was driven by relaxed selection. We detected evidence of positive selection for izumo3 among Primates. Interestingly, positively selected sites include several serine residues suggesting modifications in protein function and/or localization among Primates. Our results suggest that positive selection is driven by aspects related to species-specific adaptations to fertilization rather than sexual selection.