Genome biology

Comparison of the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) nuclear genes in the genomes of Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila pseudoobscura and Anopheles gambiae.

PMID 15693940


In eukaryotic cells, oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) uses the products of both nuclear and mitochondrial genes to generate cellular ATP. Interspecies comparative analysis of these genes, which appear to be under strong functional constraints, may shed light on the evolutionary mechanisms that act on a set of genes correlated by function and subcellular localization of their products. We have identified and annotated the Drosophila melanogaster, D. pseudoobscura and Anopheles gambiae orthologs of 78 nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation by a comparative analysis of their genomic sequences and organization. We have also identified 47 genes in these three dipteran species each of which shares significant sequence homology with one of the above-mentioned OXPHOS orthologs, and which are likely to have originated by duplication during evolution. Gene structure and intron length are essentially conserved in the three species, although gain or loss of introns is common in A. gambiae. In most tissues of D. melanogaster and A. gambiae the expression level of the duplicate gene is much lower than that of the original gene, and in D. melanogaster at least, its expression is almost always strongly testis-biased, in contrast to the soma-biased expression of the parent gene. Quickly achieving an expression pattern different from the parent genes may be required for new OXPHOS gene duplicates to be maintained in the genome. This may be a general evolutionary mechanism for originating phenotypic changes that could lead to species differentiation.