Substitution rates in a new Silene latifolia sex-linked gene, SlssX/Y
Dioecious white campion Silene latifolia has sex chromosomal sex determination, with homogametic (XX) females and heterogametic (XY) males. This species has become popular in studies of sex chromosome evolution. However, the lack of genes isolated from the X and Y chromosomes of this species is a major obstacle for such studies. Here, I report the isolation of a new sex-linked gene, Slss, with strong homology to spermidine synthase genes of other species. The new gene has homologous intact copies on the X and Y chromosomes (SlssX and SlssY, respectively). Synonymous divergence between the SlssX and SlssY genes is 4.7%, and nonsynonymous divergence is 1.4%. Isolation of a homologous gene from nondioecious S. vulgaris provided a root to the gene tree and allowed the estimation of the silent and replacement substitution rates along the SlssX and SlssY lineages. Interestingly, the Y-linked gene has higher synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution rates. The elevated synonymous rate in the SlssY gene, compared with SlssX, confirms our previous suggestion that the S. latifolia Y chromosome has a higher mutation rate, compared with the X chromosome. When differences in silent substitution rate are taken into account, the Y-linked gene still demonstrates significantly faster accumulation of nonsynonymous substitutions, which is consistent with the theoretical prediction of relaxed purifying selection in Y-linked genes, leading to the accumulation of nonsynonymous substitutions and genetic degeneration of the Y-linked genes. © Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution 2004; all rights reserved.