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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Nov 7, 1995; 92(23): 10757–10761.

Emergence of the ZNF91 Krüppel-associated box-containing zinc finger gene family in the last common ancestor of anthropoidea.


The ZNF91 gene family, a subset of the Krüppel-associated box (KRAB)-containing group of zinc finger genes, comprises more than 40 loci; most reside on human chromosome 19p12-p13.1. We have examined the emergence and evolutionary conservation of the ZNF91 family. ZNF91 family members were detected in all species of great apes, gibbons, Old World monkeys, and New World monkeys examined but were not found in prosimians or rodents. In each species containing the ZNF91 family, the genes were clustered at one major site, on the chromosome(s) syntenic to human chromosome 19. To identify a putative "founder" gene, > 20 murine KRAB-containing zinc finger protein (ZFP) cDNAs were randomly cloned, but none showed sequence similarity to the ZNF91 genes. These observations suggest that the ZNF91 gene cluster is a derived character specific to Anthropoidea, resulting from a duplication and amplification event some 55 million years ago in the common ancestor of simians. Although the ZNF91 gene cluster is present in all simian species, the sequences of the human ZNF91 gene that confer DNA-binding specificity were conserved only in great apes, suggesting that there is not a high selective pressure to maintain the DNA targets of these proteins during evolution.

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