The detection of adaptive evolution at the molecular level is of interest not only as an insight into the process of evolution but also because of its functional implications for genes of interest. Here, we present the first genomics approach to detecting positive selection operating on the Bos taurus lineage, an important domestic species. This analysis led to the identification of the T-cell and natural killer (NK) cell receptor cluster of differentiation 2 (CD2) as having a strong signal of selection. Further detailed investigation of CD2 revealed that this gene was subject to positive selection during the evolution of a number of mammalian lineages. Moreover, we show that selection has operated primarily on the extracellular domain of CD2 and discuss the implications of this for an important regulator of the adaptive immune response.
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