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, 23 (3), 193-202

Evolutionary Genetics of Ruminant Lysozymes


Evolutionary Genetics of Ruminant Lysozymes

D M Irwin et al. Anim Genet.


Comparative studies of mammalian lysozymes and their genes have contributed to knowledge of how new functions arise during evolution. The recruitment of lysozymes for functioning in the stomach fluid of ruminants has occurred in response to selection pressures that are partly known and on a time-scale that is known. A semiquantitative analysis of adaptive evolution is thus made possible by the ruminant lysozyme system. Large-scale production of lysozyme by the stomach lining entailed gene duplication as well as a change in gene expression. Remoulding of the lysozyme for working and lasting in the stomach fluid involved accelerated amino acid replacements, which may have been facilitated by intergenic recombination. The possibility that multigene families can accelerate adaptive evolution, by virtue of their capacity for bringing together functionally coupled substitutions, receives emphasis in this review.

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