Natural selection drives Drosophila immune system evolution

Todd A. Schlenke, David J. Begun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evidence from disparate sources suggests that natural selection may often play a role in the evolution of host immune system proteins. However, there have been few attempts to make general population genetic inferences on the basis of analysis of several immune-system-related genes from a single species. Here we present DNA polymorphism and divergence data from 34 genes thought to function in the innate immune system of Drosophila simulans and compare these data to those from 28 nonimmunity genes sequenced from the same lines. Several statistics, including average KA/KS ratio, average silent heterozygosity, and average haplotype diversity, significantly differ between the immunity and nonimmunity genes, suggesting an important role for directional selection in immune system protein evolution. In contrast to data from mammalian immunoglobulins and other proteins, we find no strong evidence for the selective maintenance of protein diversity in Drosophila immune system proteins. This may be a consequence of Drosophila's generalized innate immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1471-1480
Number of pages10
JournalGenetics
Volume164
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics

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