Duplication and Divergence: The Evolution of Nematode Globins


  • P. W. Hunt
  • J. McNally
  • W. Barris
  • M. L. Blaxter


Genomics, Globin, Evolution, Genetic variation, Gene expression


In common with many other groups, nematodes express globins with unknown functions. Nematode globin-like genes can be divided into class 1 globins, similar to vertebrate myoglobins, and a wide range of additional classes. Here we show that class 1 nematode globins possess a huge amount of diversity in gene sequence and structure. There is evidence for multiple events of gene duplication, intron insertion and loss between species, and for allelic variation effecting both synonymous and non-synonymous sites within species. We have also examined gene expression patterns in class I globins from a variety of species. The results show variation in the degree of gene expression, but the tissue specificity and temporal specificity of expression may be more conserved in the phylum. Because the structure-function relationships for the binding and transport of oxygen by globins are well understood, the consequences of genetic variation causing amino acid changes are explored. The gene family shows great promise for discovering unique insights into both structure-function relationships of globins and their physiologial roles.