Genetic signatures of evolution of the pluripotency gene regulating network across mammals

Yoshinori Endo, Ken Ichiro Kamei, Miho Inoue-Murayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mammalian pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) have distinct molecular and biological characteristics among species, but to date we lack a comprehensive understanding of regulatory network evolution in mammals. Here, we carried out a comparative genetic analysis of 134 genes constituting the pluripotency gene regulatory network across 48 mammalian species covering all the major taxonomic groups. We report that mammalian genes in the pluripotency regulatory network show a remarkably high degree of evolutionary stasis, suggesting the conservation of fundamental biological process of mammalian PSCs across species. Nevertheless, despite the overall conservation of the regulatory network, we discovered rapid evolution of the downstream targets of the core regulatory elements and specific amino acid residues that have undergone positive selection. Our data indicate development of lineage-specific pluripotency regulating networks that may explain observed variations in some characteristics of mammalian PSCs. We further revealed that positively selected genes could be associated with species' unique adaptive characteristics that were not dedicated to regulation of PSCs. These results provide important insight into the evolution of the pluripotency gene regulatory network underlying variations in characteristics of mammalian PSCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1806-1818
Number of pages13
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2020


  • Adaptation
  • Embryonic development
  • Gene network
  • Mammalia
  • Natural selection
  • Pluripotent stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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