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J Mol Evol. 2002 Nov;55(5):522-33.

Pancreatic-type ribonuclease 1 gene duplications in rat species.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands.


Mammalian pancreatic-type ribonucleases (RNases) 1 represent single-copy genes in the genome of most investigated mammalian species, including Mus musculus and other murid rodents. However, in six species belonging to the genus Rattus and closely related taxa, several paralogous gene products were identified by Southern blotting and PCR amplifications of genomic sequences. Phylogenies of nucleotide and derived amino acid sequences were reconstructed by several procedures, with three Mus species as outgroup. Duplications of the RNase 1 occurred after the divergence of Niviventer cremoriventer and Leopoldamys edwardsi from the other investigated species. Four groups of paralogous genes could be identified from specific amino acid sequence features in each of them. Low ratios of nonsynonymous-to-synonymous substitutions and the paucity of pseudogene features suggest functional gene products. One of the RNase 1 genes of R. norvegicus is expressed in the pancreas. RNases 1 were isolated from pancreatic tissues of R. rattus and R. exulans and submitted to N-terminal amino acid sequence analysis. In R. rattus, the orthologue of the expressed gene of R. norvegicus was identified, but in R. exulans, two paralogous gene products were found. The gene encoding for one of these had not yet been found by PCR amplification of genomic DNA. A well-defined group of orthologous sequences found in five investigated species codes for very basic RNases. Northern blot analysis showed expression of messenger RNA for this RNase in the spleen of R. norvegicus, but the protein product could not be identified. Evolutionary rates of RNase 1, expressed as nucleotide substitutions per site per 10(3) million years (Myr), vary between 5 and 9 in the lines leading to Mus, Niviventer, and Lepoldamys (on the basis of an ancestral date of mouse/rat divergence of 12.2 Myr) and between 20 and 50 in the lines to the other sequences after divergence from Niviventer and Leopoldamys (5.5 Myr).

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