The evolution of protamine P1 genes in dasyurid marsupials Academic Article uri icon


  • We report the complete DNA sequences of the protamine P1 gene and flanking regions for 13 species of the marsupial family Dasyuridae. The structure of the protamine locus is conserved in dasyurids and consists of two exons (of lengths 142-151 and 47 bp) separated by an intron (208-240 bp). A key feature of the dasyurid intron is a 38-40 bp duplication found in all species examined to date. This duplication apparently predates the radiation of modern dasyurid lineages and may be homologous to a similar feature in the marsupial mole (Notoryctes). Sequences from a species of Planigale demonstrate that this genus is unique among marsupials in possessing cysteine residues in its protamine P1 molecules. Cysteines may provide enhanced chemical stability for condensed sperm nuclei, a physiological feature that would converge on the common eutherian pattern. Phylogenetic analysis of the protamine genes yields a tree that is largely congruent with previous molecular systematic studies in two areas: (1) There are three main dasyurid lineages corresponding to the Sminthopsinae. Dasyurinae, and Phascogalinae; (2) Dasyurinae and Phascogalinae are sister groups. This study is the first estimate of dasyurid relationships based on a nuclear DNA sequence.

publication date

  • November 1995

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