Egg Case Silk Gene Sequences from Argiope Spiders: Evidence for Multiple Loci and a Loss of Function Between Paralogs.G3 (Bethesda). 2018 01 04; 8(1):231-238.G
Spiders swath their eggs with silk to protect developing embryos and hatchlings. Egg case silks, like other fibrous spider silks, are primarily composed of proteins called spidroins (spidroin = spider-fibroin). Silks, and thus spidroins, are important throughout the lives of spiders, yet the evolution of spidroin genes has been relatively understudied. Spidroin genes are notoriously difficult to sequence because they are typically very long (≥ 10 kb of coding sequence) and highly repetitive. Here, we investigate the evolution of spider silk genes through long-read sequencing of Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) clones. We demonstrate that the silver garden spider Argiope argentata has multiple egg case spidroin loci with a loss of function at one locus. We also use degenerate PCR primers to search the genomic DNA of congeneric species and find evidence for multiple egg case spidroin loci in other Argiope spiders. Comparative analyses show that these multiple loci are more similar at the nucleotide level within a species than between species. This pattern is consistent with concerted evolution homogenizing gene copies within a genome. More complicated explanations include convergent evolution or recent independent gene duplications within each species.