Phylogenetic Patterns of Codon Evolution in the ACTIN-DEPOLYMERIZING FACTOR/COFILIN (ADF/CFL) Gene Family
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The actin-depolymerizing factor/cofilin (ADF/CFL) gene family encodes a diverse group of relatively small proteins. Once known strictly as modulators of actin filament dynamics, recent research has demonstrated that these proteins are involved in a variety of cellular processes, from signal transduction to the cytonuclear trafficking of actin. In both plant and animal lineages, expression patterns of paralogs in the ADF/CFL gene family vary among tissue types and developmental stages. In this study we use computational approaches to investigate the evolutionary forces responsible for the diversification of the ADF/CFL gene family. Estimating the rate of non-synonymous to synonymous mutations (dN/dS) across phylogenetic lineages revealed that the majority of ADF/CFL codon positions were under strong purifying selection, with rare episodic events of accelerated protein evolution. In both plants and animals these instances of accelerated evolution were ADF/CFL subclass specific, and all of the sites under selection were located in regions of the protein that could serve in new functional roles. We suggest these sites may have been important in the functional diversification of ADF/CFL proteins.