Abstract

Snakes exhibit genotypic sex determination with female heterogamety (ZZ males and ZW females), and the state of sex chromosome differentiation also varies among lineages. To investigate the evolutionary history of homologous genes located in the nonrecombining region of differentiated sex chromosomes in snakes, partial sequences of the gametologous CTNNB1 gene were analyzed for 12 species belonging to henophid (Cylindrophiidae, Xenopeltidae, and Pythonidae) and caenophid snakes (Viperidae, Elapidae, and Colubridae). Nonsynonymous/synonymous substitution ratios (Ka/Ks) in coding sequences were low (Ka/Ks < 1) between CTNNB1Z and CTNNB1W, suggesting that these 2 genes may have similar functional properties. However, frequencies of intron sequence substitutions and insertion–deletions were higher in CTNNB1Z than CTNNB1W, suggesting that Z-linked sequences evolved faster than W-linked sequences. Molecular phylogeny based on both intron and exon sequences showed the presence of 2 major clades: 1) Z-linked sequences of Caenophidia and 2) W-linked sequences of Caenophidia clustered with Z-linked sequences of Henophidia, which suggests that the sequence divergence between CTNNB1Z and CTNNB1W in Caenophidia may have occurred by the cessation of recombination after the split from Henophidia.

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