While the recent release of the Chinese tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri chinensis) genome has made the tree shrew an increasingly viable experimental animal model for biomedical research, further study of the genome may facilitate new insights into the applicability of this model. For example, though the tree shrew has a rapid rate of speed and strong jumping ability, there are limited studies on its locomotion ability. In this study we used the available Chinese tree shrew genome information and compared the evolutionary pattern of 407 locomotion system related orthologs among five mammals (human, rhesus monkey, mouse, rat and dog) and the Chinese tree shrew. Our analyses identified 29 genes with significantly high ω (Ka/Ks ratio) values and 48 amino acid sites in 14 genes showed significant evidence of positive selection in the Chinese tree shrew. Some of these positively selected genes, e.g. HOXA6 (homeobox A6) and AVP (arginine vasopressin), play important roles in muscle contraction or skeletal morphogenesis. These results provide important clues in understanding the genetic bases of locomotor adaptation in the Chinese tree shrew.
Keywords: Chinese tree shrew; Locomotion system; Positively selected genes.