Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Ancient convergent losses of Paraoxonase 1 yield potential risks for modern marine mammals

August 30, 2018

Mammals diversified by colonizing drastically different environments, with each transition yielding numerous molecular changes, including losses of protein function. Though not initially deleterious, these losses could subsequently carry deleterious pleiotropic consequences. We have used phylogenetic methods to identify convergent functional losses across independent marine mammal lineages. In one extreme case, Paraoxonase 1 (PON1) accrued lesions in all marine lineages, while remaining intact in all terrestrial mammals. These lesions coincide with PON1 enzymatic activity loss in marine species’ blood plasma. This convergent loss is likely explained by parallel shifts in marine ancestors’ lipid metabolism and/or bloodstream oxidative environment affecting PON1’s role in fatty acid oxidation. PON1 loss also eliminates marine mammals’ main defense against neurotoxicity from specific man-made organophosphorus compounds, implying potential risks in modern environments.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Ancient convergent losses of Paraoxonase 1 yield potential risks for modern marine mammals
DOI 10.1126/science.aap7714
Authors Wynn K. Meyer, Jerrica Jamison, Rebecca Richter, Stacy E. Woods, Raghavendran Partha, Amanda Kowalczyk, Charles Kronk, Maria Chikina, Robert K. Bonde, Daniel E. Crocker, Joseph C. Gaspard, Janet M. Lanyon, Judit Marsillach, Clement E. Furlong, Nathan L. Clark
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science
Index ID 70199062
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center