Recruitment of lysozyme as a major enzyme in the mouse gut: Duplication, divergence, and regulatory evolution

Michael F. Hammer, James W. Schilling, Ellen M. Prager, Allan C. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Two major types of lysozyme c (M and P) occur in the mouse genus, Mus, and have been purified from an inbred laboratory strain (C58/J) of M. domesticus. They differ in physical, catalytic, and antigenic properties as well as by amino acid replacements at 6 of 49 positions in the amino-terminal sequence. Comparisons with four other mammalian lysozymes c of known sequence suggest that M and P are related by a gene duplication that took place before the divergence of the rat and mouse lineages. M lysozyme is present in most tissues; achieves its highest concentration in the kidney, lung, and spleen; and corresponds to the lysozyme partially sequenced before from another strain of M. domesticus. In M. domesticus and several related species, P lysozyme was detected chiefly in the small intestine, where it is probably produced mainly by Paneth cells. A survey of M and P levels in 22 species of muroid rodents (from Mus and six other genera) of known phylogenetic relationships suggests that a mutation that derepressed the P enzyme arose about 4 million years ago in the ancestor of the housemouse group of species. Additional regulatory shifts affecting M and P levels have taken place along lineages leading to other muroid species. Our survey of 187 individuals of wild house mice and their closest allies reveals a correlation between latitude of origin and level of intestinal lysozyme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-279
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1987


  • 22 Rodent species
  • Enzymatic properties
  • Latitudinal variation
  • Primary sequence
  • Tissue distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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