Genetics Research

Paper

Molecular cloning and evolutionary analysis of the GJA1 (connexin43) gene from bats (Chiroptera)

LI WANGa1a2, GANG LIa1 c1, JINHONG WANGa1, SHAOHUI YEa2, GARETH JONESa3 and SHUYI ZHANGa1

a1 School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China

a2 College of Animal Science, Yunnan Agricultural University, Kunming 650201, China

a3 School of Biological Science, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 IUG, UK

Summary

Gap junction protein connexin43 (Cx43), encoded by the GJA1 gene, is the most abundant connexin in the cardiovascular system and was reported as a crucial factor maintaining cardiac electrical conduction, as well as having a very important function in facilitating the recycling of potassium ions from hair cells in the cochlea back into the cochlear endolymph during auditory transduction processes. In mammals, bats are the only taxon possessing powered flight, placing exceptional demand on many organismal processes. To meet the demands of flying, the hearts of bats show many specialties. Moreover, ultrasonic echolocation allows bat species to orientate and often detect and locate food in darkness. In this study, we cloned the full-length coding region of GJA1 gene from 12 different species of bats and obtained orthologous sequences from other mammals. We used the maximum likelihood method to analyse the evolution of GJA1 gene in mammals and the lineage of bats. Our results showed this gene is much conserved in mammals, as well as in bats' lineage. Compared with other mammals, we found one private amino acid substitution shared by bats, which is located on the inner loop domain, as well as some species-specific amino acid substitutions. The evolution rate analyses showed the signature of purifying selection on not only different classification level lineages but also the different domains and amino acid residue sites of this gene. Also, we suggested that GJA1 gene could be used as a good molecular marker to do the phylogenetic reconstruction.

(Received June 18 2008)

(Revised January 05 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author. e-mail: li_gang1978@yahoo.com.cn

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