Member # 1
posted 17. April 2003 22:35
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.0836927100
A rapidly evolving MYB-related protein causes species isolation in Drosophila
by Daniel A. Barbash, Dominic F. Siino, Aaron M. Tarone and John Roote
Matings among different species of animals or plants often result in sterile or lethal hybrids. Identifying the evolutionary forces that create hybrid incompatibility alleles is fundamental to understanding the process of speciation, but very few such alleles have been identified, particularly in model organisms that are amenable to experimental manipulation. We report here the cloning of the first, to our knowledge, Drosophila melanogaster gene involved in hybrid incompatibilities, Hybrid male rescue (Hmr). Hmr causes lethality and female sterility in hybrids among D. melanogaster and its sibling species. We have found that Hmr encodes a protein with homology to a family of MYB-related DNA-binding transcriptional regulators. The HMR protein has evolved both amino acid substitutions and insertions and deletions at an extraordinarily high rate between D. melanogaster and its sibling species, including in its predicted DNA-binding domain. Our results suggest that hybrid lethality may result from disruptions in gene regulation, and we also propose that rapid evolution may be a hallmark of speciation genes in general.