Joined: May 2002
Cockroaches making milk. How adorable.
Evol Dev. 2004 Mar-Apr;6(2):67-77.
Evolution of a novel function: nutritive milk in the viviparous cockroach, Diploptera punctata.
Williford A, Stay B, Bhattacharya D.
|Cockroach species show different degrees of maternal contribution to the developing offspring. In this study, we identify a multigene family that encodes water-soluble proteins that are a major component of nutritive "Milk" in the cockroach, Diploptera punctata. This gene family is associated with the evolution of a new trait, viviparity, in which the offspring receive nutrition during the gestation period. Twenty-five distinct Milk complementary DNAs were cloned and partially characterized. These complementary DNAs encode 22 distinct Milk peptides, each of length 171 amino acids, including a 16-amino acid signal peptide sequence. Southern blot analysis confirms the presence of multiple copies of Milk genes in D. punctata. Northern analysis indicates tissue- and stage-specific Milk gene expression. Examination of the deduced amino acid sequences identifies the presence of structurally conserved regions diagnostic of the lipocalin protein family. The shared exon/intron structure of one of the Milk loci with lipocalin genes further supports a close evolutionary relationship between these sequences.|