Contrasting levels of DNA polymorphism at the autosomal and X-linked visual color pigment loci in humans and squirrel monkeys

Lawrence C. Shimmin, Jerry Miller, Ha N. Tran, Wen Hsiung Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The X-linked color pigment (opsin) locus is known to be highly polymorphic in the squirrel monkey and other New World monkeys. To see whether this is also the case for the autosomal (blue) opsin locus, we obtained 32 squirrel monkey and 30 human blue opsin gene sequences. No amino acid polymorphism was found in either the squirrel monkey sample or the human sample, contrary to the situation at the X-linked opsin locus. This sharp contrast in the level of polymorphism might be due to differences in gene expression between the autosomal and the X-linked loci. At the X-linked locus, heterozygote advantage can occur because, owing to X-inactivation, the two alleles in a heterozygote are expressed in different cone cells, producing two types of cone cell, whereas at the autosomal locus, heterozygote advantage cannot occur because the two alleles in a heterozygote are expressed in the same cone cells, producing only one type of cone cell (i.e., phenotypically a homozygote). From the sequence data, the levels of nucleotide diversity (π, i.e., the number of nucleotide differences per site) are estimated: for the human sample, π = 0.00% per nondegenerate site, 0.00% per twofold degenerate site, and 0.04% per fourfold degenerate site in the coding regions and 0.01% per site in intron 4; for the squirrel monkey sample, π = 0.00% per nondegenerate site, 0.00% per twofold degenerate site, and 0.15% per fourfold degenerate site in the coding regions and 0.17% per site in intron 4. The blue opsin genes from the common and pygmy chimpanzees, the gorilla, the capuchin, and the howler monkey were also sequenced. Features critical to the function of the opsin are well conserved in all known mammalian sequences. However, the interhelical loops are, on average, actually more conservative than the transmembrane helical regions. In addition, these sequence data and those from some other genes indicate that the common and pygmy chimpanzees are not closely related, their divergence date being from one third to one half the date of the human-chimpanzee divergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-455
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Color vision
  • Heterozygote advantage
  • Humans
  • Natural selection
  • New World monkeys
  • Nucleotide diversity
  • Opsins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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