Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) gene duplication during chordate evolution: The cDNA sequence of the LDH of the tunicate Styela plicata

David W. Stock, Joseph M. Quattro, Gregory S. Whitt, Dennis A. Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


L-Lactate dehydrogenase (L-LDH, E.C. is encoded by two or three loci in all vertebrates examined, with the exception of lampreys, which have a single LDH locus. Biochemical characterizations of LDH proteins have suggested that a gene duplication early in vertebrate evolution gave rise to Ldh-A and Ldh-B and that an additional locus. Ldh-C arose in a number of lineages mere recently. Although some phylogenetic studies of LDH protein sequences have supported this pattern of gene duplication, others have contradicted it. In particular, a number of studies have suggested that Ldh- C represents the earliest divergence among vertebrate LDHs and that it may have diverged from the other loci well before the origin of vertebrates. Such hypotheses make explicit statements about the relationship of vertebrate and invertebrate LDHs, but to date, no closely related invertebrate LDH sequences have been available for comparison. We have attempted to provide further data on the timing of gene duplications leading to multiple vertebrate LDHs by determining the cDNA sequence of the LDH of the tunicate Styela plicata. Phylogenetic analyses of this and other LDH sequences provide strong support for the duplications giving rise to multiple vertebrate LDHs having occurred after vertebrates diverged from tunicates. The timing of these LDH duplications is consistent with data from a number of other gene families suggesting widespread gene duplication near the origin of vertebrates. With respect to the relationships among vertebrate LDHs, our data are not consistent with previous claims that Ldh-C represented the earliest divergence. However, the precise relationships among some of the main lineages of vertebrate LDHs were not resolved in our analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1273-1284
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1997


  • Gene duplication
  • Molecular phylogeny
  • Tunicate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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