Positive selection of tyrosine loss in metazoan evolution

Science. 2009 Sep 25;325(5948):1686-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1174301. Epub 2009 Jul 9.


John Nash showed that within a complex system, individuals are best off if they make the best decision that they can, taking into account the decisions of the other individuals. Here, we investigate whether similar principles influence the evolution of signaling networks in multicellular animals. Specifically, by analyzing a set of metazoan species we observed a striking negative correlation of genomically encoded tyrosine content with biological complexity (as measured by the number of cell types in each organism). We discuss how this observed tyrosine loss correlates with the expansion of tyrosine kinases in the evolution of the metazoan lineage and how it may relate to the optimization of signaling systems in multicellular animals. We propose that this phenomenon illustrates genome-wide adaptive evolution to accommodate beneficial genetic perturbation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Fungal Proteins / chemistry
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • Mutation
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphotyrosine / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tyrosine / metabolism*


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Phosphotyrosine
  • Tyrosine
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases