Extreme variability among mammalian V1R gene families

Genome Res. 2010 Jan;20(1):10-8. doi: 10.1101/gr.098913.109. Epub 2009 Dec 1.


We report an evolutionary analysis of the V1R gene family across 37 mammalian genomes. V1Rs comprise one of three chemosensory receptor families expressed in the vomeronasal organ, and contribute to pheromone detection. We first demonstrate that Trace Archive data can be used effectively to determine V1R family sizes and to obtain sequences of most V1R family members. Analyses of V1R sequences from trace data and genome assemblies show that species-specific expansions previously observed in only eight species were prevalent throughout mammalian evolution, resulting in "semi-private" V1R repertoires for most mammals. The largest families are found in mouse and platypus, whose V1R repertoires have been published previously, followed by mouse lemur and rabbit (approximately 215 and approximately 160 intact V1Rs, respectively). In contrast, two bat species and dolphin possess no functional V1Rs, only pseudogenes, and suffered inactivating mutations in the vomeronasal signal transduction gene Trpc2. We show that primate V1R decline happened prior to acquisition of trichromatic vision, earlier during evolution than was previously thought. We also show that it is extremely unlikely that decline of the dog V1R repertoire occurred in response to selective pressures imposed by humans during domestication. Functional repertoire sizes in each species correlate roughly with anatomical observations of vomeronasal organ size and quality; however, no single ecological correlate explains the very diverse fates of this gene family in different mammalian genomes. V1Rs provide one of the most extreme examples observed to date of massive gene duplication in some genomes, with loss of all functional genes in other species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Duplication
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mammals / classification
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Phylogeny
  • Rabbits
  • Receptors, Pheromone / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity
  • Vomeronasal Organ / metabolism
  • Wolves / genetics


  • Receptors, Pheromone

Associated data

  • GENBANK/FJ713544
  • GENBANK/FJ713545
  • GENBANK/FJ713546
  • GENBANK/FJ713547
  • GENBANK/FJ713548
  • GENBANK/FJ713549
  • GENBANK/FJ713550
  • GENBANK/FJ713551
  • GENBANK/FJ713552
  • GENBANK/FJ713553
  • GENBANK/FJ713554
  • GENBANK/FJ713555
  • GENBANK/FJ713556
  • GENBANK/FJ713557
  • GENBANK/FJ713558
  • GENBANK/FJ713559
  • GENBANK/FJ713560
  • GENBANK/FJ713561
  • GENBANK/FJ713562
  • GENBANK/FJ713563
  • GENBANK/FJ713564
  • GENBANK/FJ713565