A recurring observation in the study of reproductive proteins is their rapid, adaptive evolution. This phenomenon occurs in organisms diverse as diatoms and humans. The long-term goal of my research is to understand the diversity of reproductive proteins and the functional consequences of their divergence, which could involve problems in fertility and speciation due to a mismatch of sperm-egg recognition molecules. This would be analogous to matches in class I major-histocompatibility-complex molecules necessary for successful skin grafts. Therefore, understanding the evolutionary dynamics of reproductive proteins may be directly relevant to problems in fertility. Our lab works on a variety of organisms, including Drosophila, abalone (Haliotis), and mammals. A common theme throughout my research is identifying genes subjected to positive selection (adaptive evolution), indicating potentially functionally important candidate genes. Once identified using comparative genomic approaches, these proteins are targets for further functional characterization.

Selected Publications:

Swanson, W.J. and Vacquier, V.D. 1998. Concerted evolution in an egg receptor for a rapidly evolving abalone sperm protein. Science 281:710-712.

Swanson, W.J., Aquadro, C.F. and Vacquier, V.D. 2001. Polymorphism survey in abalone fertilization proteins is consistent with the neutral evolution of the egg's receptor for lysine (VERL) and positive Darwinian selection of sperm lysin. Molecular Biology and Evolution 18:376-383.

Swanson, W.J., Clark, A.G., Waldrip-Dail, H.M., Wolfner, M.F., and Aquadro, C.F. 2001. Evolutionary EST analysis identifies rapidly evolving male reproductive proteins in Drosophila. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 98: 7375-7379.

Swanson, W.J., Yang, Z., Wolfner, M.F., and Aquadro, C.F. 2001. Positive Darwinian selection drives the evolution of several female reproductive proteins in mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 98: 2509-2514.

Swanson, W.J. and Vacquier, V.D. 2002. Rapid evolution of reproductive proteins. Nature Reviews Genetics 3: 137 144.

Galindo, B.E., Vacquier, V.D., Swanson, W.J. 2003. Positive selection in the egg receptor for abalone sperm lysin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 100: 4639-4643.

Swanson, W.J. 2003. Adaptive evolution of genes and gene families. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development. 13: 617-622.

Swanson, W.J., Wong, A., Wolfner, M.F., and Aquadro, C.F. 2004. Evolutionary expressed sequence tag analysis of Drosophilafemale reproductive tracts identifies genes subjected to positive selection. Genetics168: 1457-1465.

Clark, N. L. and Swanson, W. J. 2005. Pervasive Adaptive Evolution of Primate Seminal Fluid Proteins. PLoS Genetics1: e35.

Aagaard, J.E., Yi, X., MacCoss, M.J. and Swanson, W.J. 2006. Rapidly Evolving Zona Pellucida Domain Proteins are a Major Component of the Vitelline Envelope of Abalone Eggs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 103: 17302-17307.

Kelley, J.L., Madeoy, J., Calhoun J.C., Swanson, W.J. and Akey, J.M. 2006 Genomic Signatures of Positive Selection in Humans and the Limits of Outlier Approaches. Genome Research, 16: 980 – 989.

Gapser, J. and Swanson, W.J. 2006. Molecular Population Genetics Of The Gene Encoding The Human Fertilization Protein Zonadhesin Reveals Rapid Adaptive Evolution. American Journal Human Genetics 5: 820-830.

Hamm, D. Mautz, B. S., Wolfner, M.F., Aquadro, C. F. and Swanson, W. J. 2007. Evidence for amino acid diversity-enhancing selection within humans and among primates at the candidate sperm receptor gene PKDREJ. American Journal Human Genetics 81: 44-52.

Clark, N. L., Findlay, G. and Swanson, W.J. 2007. Selection and duplication of abalone sperm lysin in an allopatric population. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 24: 2081 - 2090.

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