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Gene. 2005 Dec 5;362:125-32. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

History of the Tfam gene in primates.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Biochimica e Biologia Molecolare, Universit√† degli studi di Bari, via Orabona 4/A, 70125, Bari, Italy.


Tfam is a single copy nuclear gene mapping on chromosome 10 in human and mouse, 20 in rat and 12 in Presbytis cristata. It encodes for an HMG (high-mobility-group) protein showing a high affinity with the two transcriptional promoters and other mitochondrial DNA regions. It is an activator of mitochondrial transcription acting in the presence of mitochondrial RNA polymerase and of transcription factor B. Other interesting features of Tfam gene in human and rat are reported such as the existence of a smaller isoform, originated by an alternative splicing mechanism of the exon 5 (delta5 isoform) and the presence of different processed pseudogenes in addition to the active copy of the gene. In order to widen knowledge about Tfam gene and the appearance of some of its properties in the evolutionary history of primates, we have studied some aspects of this gene in different species. In particular we have determined its chromosomal localization, suggesting that its locus is highly conserved; we have searched for the presence of the delta5 isoform, demonstrating that it is present only in hominids; we have provided evidence of Tfam processed pseudogenes in the majority of the analysed genomes. Sequence data from this article have been deposited in the EMBL nucleotide database.

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