Human Sperm Gene Hasn't Changed for 600 Million Years

A gene that has been stuck in purifying selection for 600 million years appears to be required for sperm reproduction in possibly all bilateral animals.

The article makes grandiose claims about the gene being unchanged in all animals, so I went and did some actual reading of the article. It is cool, to be sure, and could give us a gene to target to make a male contraceptive that is nearly 100% effective. However the gene has changed some, and it is actually only found in the bilateral animals and cnidarians, not in sponges (although it could be found later in sponges.)

Anyways, here the link to the journal article, and here is an image from it showing the conservation of the gene.



Note that now all the sites are the same, but there is striking similarity. This is the protein sequence by the way, it tells us nothing about silent site mutations. Also, for the creationist idiots, note that this gene alone almost gives a perfect view of the evolution of animals as it is currently understood (lampreys and sea urchins aren't quite right though).

Anyways, evolution is cool and learning more stuff and helping us understand ways to make our lives better.  What has religion done for us lately?

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Replies to This Discussion

Cool stuff Stehpan. I just watched a painful interview between Richard Dawkins and Creationist Wendy Wright. It is painful to watch someone as stupid as Wright talk to someone as intelligent as Dawkins. She kept choosing to remain ignorant every time Dawkins offered her evidence. Creationists generally seem unable to understand even basic evolutionary concepts. Try to hit them with something about genes and I am sure that is when the drooling would commence.
Franklin, I too have just watched that video. That Wright woman wouldn't know what science was. Dawkinds asked her where she studied science and she quickly went off on a tangent about scientists thinking they are the only ones whop can speak about science. As Dawkins says, there is no REAL science that goes against the fact of evolution. That woman was either stupid or deliberately not facing up to the massive evidence that exists for evolution and against creationism. She made me so mad that (I an ashamed to say) I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her till she woke up. Obviously I would never do that but her type make me ... despair!
although it could be found later in sponges


When a sponge is in a male state it produces sperm without the 600,000 year old gene. This suggests that animals with the gene diverged from a common ancestor with sponges more than 600,000 years ago. This being the case wouldn't the probability of the gene showing up in sponges some time in the future be incredibly low?
That's 600,000,000 years.
Sorry, I wasn't clear: the sponge genome isn't fully sequenced yet (it is still in a draft state), so the gene may still be FOUND in sponges...it won't magically appear.
Here is another article on it. This one perhaps incorrectly goes so far as to say that sponges don't have the gene.

Fungi and plants lacked these genes, as did really ancient animals, such as sponges.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/61179/title/Animal_sperm...
My comment was taken directly from the scientific paper. Sponges PROBABLY don't have the gene, but as with good science, these scientists are being careful to not claim that until a complete sponge genome is available for study.

The quote:
*The absence of a Boule homolog in sponge is tentative since it is based on the draft genome of Amphimedon queenslandica (http://www.jgi.doe.gov/sequencing/statusreporter/psr.php?projectid=...).
I must say, that is rather cool. I am not one to actively study biology, though I try to understand the basics, but it has been awhile since I have seen something that fascinating. Poor sponge. Maybe it had the building blocks for the gene but just didn't fully realize them.

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