Duplication and Diversification of Dipteran Argonaute Genes, and the Evolutionary Divergence of Piwi and Aubergine

Genome Biology and Evolution
Samuel H LewisDarren J Obbard


Genetic studies of Drosophila melanogaster have provided a paradigm for RNA interference (RNAi) in arthropods, in which the microRNA and antiviral pathways are each mediated by a single Argonaute (Ago1 and Ago2) and germline suppression of transposable elements is mediated by a trio of Piwi-subfamily Argonaute proteins (Ago3, Aub, and Piwi). Without a suitable evolutionary context, deviations from this can be interpreted as derived or idiosyncratic. Here we analyze the evolution of Argonaute genes across the genomes and transcriptomes of 86 Dipteran species, showing that variation in copy number can occur rapidly, and that there is constant flux in some RNAi mechanisms. The lability of the RNAi pathways is illustrated by the divergence of Aub and Piwi (182-156 Ma), independent origins of multiple Piwi-family genes in Aedes mosquitoes (less than 25Ma), and the recent duplications of Ago2 and Ago3 in the tsetse fly Glossina morsitans. In each case the tissue specificity of these genes has altered, suggesting functional divergence or innovation, and consistent with the action of dynamic selection pressures across the Argonaute gene family. We find there are large differences in evolutionary rates and gene turnover between pathways...Continue Reading


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Related Concepts

Biochemical Pathway
EIF2C1 protein, human
AGO2 gene
EIF2C3 wt Allele
Germ-Line Mutation
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Argonaute Proteins
PIWI Subfamily of Argonaute Proteins
MicroRNA Gene

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