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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jan 1981; 78(1): 450–453.
PMCID: PMC319071

Rapidly evolving mouse alpha-globin-related pseudo gene and its evolutionary history.


The nucleotide sequences of a mouse pseudo alpha-globin gene and two adult alpha-globin genes from mouse and rabbit were compared. A close examination of sequence differences among the three genes revealed that the mouse pseudo alpha-globin gene was derived from one of the mouse alpha-globin genes about 24 million years ago by gene duplication and lost its original function, presumably due to loss of both the intervening sequences or frameshift mutations that prevented production of a functional globin polypeptide, and eventually became an inactive gene about 17 million years ago. After this event, this gene evolved at a very high rate, approximately 1.9 times the rate of synonymous codon change in productive genes. This suggests the presence of functional constraints against synonymous codon changes in normally functioning genes and also suggests that the "nucleotide arrangements" serve almost no important functions beside protein coding ability in the greater part of this gene, except for a very limited number of nucleotides. A continuous stretch of the pseudo alpha-globin gene consisting of a third exon and a 5' half of the 3' noncoding region shows marked sequence homology to the alpha-globin gene, suggesting transfer from one of the globin or globin-like genes by recombination very recently.

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