Clustering of tissue-specific genes underlies much of the similarity in rates of protein evolution of linked genes

J Mol Evol. 2002 Apr;54(4):511-8. doi: 10.1007/s00239-001-0043-8.

Abstract

Are genes nonrandomly distributed around the genome and might this explain why it was found that, in the mouse genome, proteins of linked genes evolve at similar rates? Anecdotal evidence suggests that the similarity of expression of linked genes might, in part, explain the similarity in their rates of evolution. Immune system genes, for example, are known to evolve at a high rate and sometimes cluster in the genome. Here we develop methods for statistical tests of similarity of expression of linked genes and report that there is a significant tendency for genes of similar expression breadth to be linked. Significantly, when we exclude tissue specific genes from our sample, the similarity in rates of protein evolution of linked genes is greatly diminished, if not abolished. This diminution is not a sampling artifact. In contrast, while half of the immune genes in our sample reside in 1 of 10 immune clusters in the mouse genome, this clustering appears not to affect the extent of local similarity in rates of evolution. The distribution of placentally expressed genes, in contrast, does have an effect.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Order
  • Genetic Linkage*
  • Mice
  • Multigene Family*
  • Organ Specificity / genetics*