Pervasive adaptive evolution in primate seminal proteins

PLoS Genet. 2005 Sep;1(3):e35. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.0010035.


Seminal fluid proteins show striking effects on reproduction, involving manipulation of female behavior and physiology, mechanisms of sperm competition, and pathogen defense. Strong adaptive pressures are expected for such manifestations of sexual selection and host defense, but the extent of positive selection in seminal fluid proteins from divergent taxa is unknown. We identified adaptive evolution in primate seminal proteins using genomic resources in a tissue-specific study. We found extensive signatures of positive selection when comparing 161 human seminal fluid proteins and 2,858 prostate-expressed genes to those in chimpanzee. Seven of eight outstanding genes yielded statistically significant evidence of positive selection when analyzed in divergent primates. Functional clues were gained through divergent analysis, including several cases of species-specific loss of function in copulatory plug genes, and statistically significant spatial clustering of positively selected sites near the active site of kallikrein 2. This study reveals previously unidentified positive selection in seven primate seminal proteins, and when considered with findings in Drosophila, indicates that extensive positive selection is found in seminal fluid across divergent taxonomic groups.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cercopithecidae / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Hominidae / genetics
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Primates / genetics*
  • Prostatic Secretory Proteins / genetics*
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Semen / chemistry*


  • Prostatic Secretory Proteins
  • Proteins
  • beta-microseminoprotein

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB098481
  • GENBANK/AJ010154
  • GENBANK/AJ010155
  • GENBANK/AJ010158
  • GENBANK/AY647976
  • GENBANK/U49786