Adaptive evolution of M3 Lysin-A candidate gamete recognition protein in the mytilus edulis species complex

Thiago G. Lima, Michael A. McCartney

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12 Scopus citations


Marine invertebrate gamete recognition proteins (GRPs) are classic examples of rapid adaptive evolution of reproductive proteins, and hybridizing Mytilus blue mussels allow us to study the evolution of GRPs during speciation following secondary contact. Even with frequent hybridization, positive selection drives divergence of M7 lysin, one of the three Mytilus egg vitelline envelope (VE) lysins. Mytilus trossulus and M. edulis form a broad hybrid zone in the Canadian Maritimes and eastern Maine, isolated by strong (but partial) gamete incompatibility. M7 lysin, however, is an unlikely GRP controlling this gametic incompativility, as earlier studies showed either weak or no positive selection and extensive introgression between the two species. We used reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and cloned several alleles of M3 lysin, a potent VE lysin encoded by a nonhomologous gene whose evolution has not been studied. McDonald-Kreitman and HKA tests reveal strong positive selection, which PAML branch-site models detect in 19.7% of the codons. Protein structure predictions show that replacements map exclusively to one face of the carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD) of this C-type lectin, with codons under positive selection localizing to CRD regions known to control ligand specificity. Polymorphism/divergence analyses show that selective sweep has purged M. edulis but not M. trossulus of polymorphism, and unique to M3 is an absence of fixed substitutions and broad haplotype sharing between M. edulis and Mediterranean M. galloprovincialis. Taken together, these results suggest that different lysins serve as GRPs in different Mytilus hybrid zones, with M3 likely co-opted to play this role in the western Atlantic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2688-2698
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Mytilus
  • adaptive evolution
  • gamete recognition
  • lysin
  • speciation
  • sperm protein


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