Evolution and multiple origins of zona pellucida genes in vertebrates

Biology Open
Jin-Mei FengHan-Bing Xiao


Animal egg coats are composed of different glycoproteins collectively named zona pellucida (ZP) proteins. The characterized vertebrate genes encoding ZP proteins have been classified into six subfamilies, and exhibit low similarity to the ZP genes characterized in certain invertebrates. The origin and evolution of the vertebrate ZP genes remain obscure. A search against 97 representative metazoan species revealed various numbers (ranging from three to 33) of different putative egg-coat ZP genes in all 47 vertebrates and several ZP genes in five invertebrate species, but no putative ZP gene was found in the other 45 species. Based on phylogenetic and synteny analyses, all vertebrate egg-coat ZP genes were classified into eight ZP gene subfamilies. Lineage- and species-specific gene duplications and gene losses occurred frequently and represented the main causes of the patchy distribution of the eight ZP gene subfamilies in vertebrates. Thorough phylogenetic analyses revealed that the vertebrate ZP genes could be traced to three independent origins but were not orthologues of the characterized invertebrate ZP genes. Our results suggested that vertebrate egg-coat ZP genes should be classified into eight subfamilies, and a putative...Continue Reading


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