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PLOS ONE  2012 

Eco-Geographical Diversification of Bitter Taste Receptor Genes (TAS2Rs) among Subspecies of Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043277

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Abstract:

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) have region-specific difference in dietary repertoires from East to West across tropical Africa. Such differences may result from different genetic backgrounds in addition to cultural variations. We analyzed the sequences of all bitter taste receptor genes (cTAS2Rs) in a total of 59 chimpanzees, including 4 putative subspecies. We identified genetic variations including single-nucleotide variations (SNVs), insertions and deletions (indels), gene-conversion variations, and copy-number variations (CNVs) in cTAS2Rs. Approximately two-thirds of all cTAS2R haplotypes in the amino acid sequence were unique to each subspecies. We analyzed the evolutionary backgrounds of natural selection behind such diversification. Our previous study concluded that diversification of cTAS2Rs in western chimpanzees (P. t. verus) may have resulted from balancing selection. In contrast, the present study found that purifying selection dominates as the evolutionary form of diversification of the so-called human cluster of cTAS2Rs in eastern chimpanzees (P. t. schweinfurthii) and that the other cTAS2Rs were under no obvious selection as a whole. Such marked diversification of cTAS2Rs with different evolutionary backgrounds among subspecies of chimpanzees probably reflects their subspecies-specific dietary repertoires.

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