Evolution of nested genes with special reference to cuticle proteins in Drosophila melanogaster

Etsuko N. Moriyama, Takashi Gojobori*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


One of the pupal cuticle protein (PCP) genes has been found within an intron of a Drosophila housekeeping gene (the Gart locus) that encodes three enzymes involved in the purine pathway. This intronic gene has been described as a gene within a gene, and the gene is now called a “nested” gene. Because the intronic PCP gene has sequence similarity with the larval cuticle protein (LCP) gene, it may have been derived from one of the LCP genes or their ancestral gene. We have studied possible phylogenetic relationships among these five genes by comparing nucleotide sequences of four LCP genes with that of the PCP gene. The results obtained suggest that the PCP gene may have originated from an ancestral gene before duplication of the LCP genes occurred. Using the number of synonymous (silent) substitutions, we then estimated the divergence time between the PCP gene and the LCP genes to be about 70 million years (Myr). The divergence time estimated is much larger than that for the sibling species of D. melanogaster (about 2.5 Myr), indicating that the “nested” gene structure can be seen not only in Drosophila melanogaster, but also in other distantly related Drosophila species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-397
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Cuticle gene
  • Drosophila
  • Molecular evolution
  • Nested genes
  • Substitution rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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