A signature of evolutionary constraint on a subset of ectopically expressed olfactory receptor genes

Omar De La Cruz, Ran Blekhman, Xiaohong Zhang, Dan Nicolae, Stuart Firestein, Yoav Gilad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Olfactory receptor (OR) genes constitute the basis for the sense of smell. It has long been observed that a subset of mammalian OR genes are expressed in nonolfactory tissues, in addition to their expression in the olfactory epithelium. However, it is unknown whether OR genes have alternative functions in the nonolfactory tissues. Using a dedicated microarray, we surveyed OR gene expression in olfactory epithelium as well as a number of nonolfactory tissues, in human and chimpanzee. Our observations suggest that ectopically expressed OR orthologous genes are expressed in the same nonolfactory tissues in human and chimpanzee more often than expected by chance alone. Moreover, we found that the subset of orthologous OR genes with conserved ectopic expression evolve under stronger evolutionary constraint than OR genes expressed exclusively in the olfactory epithelium. Thus, although we cannot provide direct functional data, our observations are consistent with the notion that a subset of ectopically expressed OR genes have additional functions in nonolfactory tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-494
Number of pages4
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Keywords

  • Olfaction
  • Olfactory receptors
  • Primate evolution

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