Large number of ultraconserved elements were already present in the jawed vertebrate ancestor.

Jianli Wang, Alison P Lee, Rimantas Kodzius, Sydney Brenner, Byrappa Venkatesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Stephen (2008) identified 13,736 ultraconserved elements (UCEs) in placental mammals and investigated their evolution in opossum, chicken, frog, and fugu. They found that there was a massive expansion of UCEs during tetrapod evolution and the substitution rate in UCEs showed a significant decline in tetrapods compared with fugu, suggesting they were exapted in tetrapods. They considered it unlikely that these elements are ancient but evolved at a higher rate in teleost fishes. In this study, we investigated the evolution of UCEs in a cartilaginous fish, the elephant shark and show that nearly half the UCEs were present in the jawed vertebrate ancestor. The substitution rate in UCEs is higher in fugu than in elephant shark, and approximately one-third of ancient UCEs have diverged beyond recognition in teleost fishes. These data indicate that UCEs have evolved at a higher rate in teleost fishes, which may have implications for their vast diversity and evolutionary success.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-490
Number of pages4
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 23 2008
Externally publishedYes

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