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J Mol Evol. 2000 Oct;51(4):329-38.

Dynamic rearrangement within the Antheraea pernyi silk fibroin gene is associated with four types of repetitive units.

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  • 1Department of Insect Genetic Breeding, National Institute of Sericultural and Entomological Science, 1-2 Ohwashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8634 Japan.


We characterized a full-length gene encoding wild silkmoth Antheraea pernyi fibroin (Ap-fibroin) to clarify the conformation of repetitive sequences. The gene consisted of a first exon encoding 14 amino acid residues, a short intron (120 bp), and a long second exon encoding 2,625 amino acid residues. Three amino acids, alanine, glycine, and serine, amounted to 81% of the Ap-fibroin sequence. The Ap-fibroin, except for 155 residues of the amino terminus, was composed of 80 tandemly arranged polyalanine-containing units (motifs). A motif was a doublet of a polyalanine block (PAB) and a nonpolyalanine block (NPAB). Seventy-eight of the 80 motifs were classified into four types based on differences in the NPAB sequences. Although respective motifs were significantly conserved, many rearrangements were observed within the second exon, i.e., the triplication of a 558-bp-long sequence and other duplication events of shorter sequences. Chi-like sequences, GCTGGAG, might contribute to the rearrangement within the gene as described in human minisatellite loci, because they were found at specific sites of NPAB-encoding sequences in three of four types of motifs. The present results support the idea that the Ap-fibroin gene is unstable like minisatellite sequences and that the evolution of this gene is strongly associated with its instability.

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