Concerted and nonconcerted evolution of the Hsp70 gene superfamily in two sibling species of nematodes

Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Mar;21(3):498-505. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msh041. Epub 2003 Dec 23.


We have identified the Hsp70 gene superfamily of the nematode Caenorhabditis briggsae and investigated the evolution of these genes in comparison with Hsp70 genes from C. elegans, Drosophila, and yeast. The Hsp70 genes are classified into three monophyletic groups according to their subcellular localization, namely, cytoplasm (CYT), endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and mitochondria (MT). The Hsp110 genes can be classified into the polyphyletic CYT group and the monophyletic ER group. The different Hsp70 and Hsp110 groups appeared to evolve following the model of divergent evolution. This model can also explain the evolution of the ER and MT genes. On the other hand, the CYT genes are divided into heat-inducible and constitutively expressed genes. The constitutively expressed genes have evolved more or less following the birth-and-death process, and the rates of gene birth and gene death are different between the two nematode species. By contrast, some heat-inducible genes show an intraspecies phylogenetic clustering. This suggests that they are subject to sequence homogenization resulting from gene conversion-like events. In addition, the heat-inducible genes show high levels of sequence conservation in both intra-species and inter-species comparisons, and in most cases, amino acid sequence similarity is higher than nucleotide sequence similarity. This indicates that purifying selection also plays an important role in maintaining high sequence similarity among paralogous Hsp70 genes. Therefore, we suggest that the CYT heat-inducible genes have been subjected to a combination of purifying selection, birth-and-death process, and gene conversion-like events.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis / classification
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • HSP110 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics*
  • Multigene Family*
  • Phylogeny
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • HSP110 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins