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Mol Biol Evol. 1998 May;15(5):552-9.

The evolution of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene family by loss of introns in plants of the genus Leavenworthia (Brassicaceae).

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, USA.


We present results showing that several species in the plant genus Leavenworthia, in the Brassica family, have three alcohol dehydrogenase loci, unlike Arabidopsis thaliana, which has only a single classical (class P) alcohol dehydrogenase locus. Based on a portion of the sequence, the alcohol dehydrogenase loci of Leavenworthia show about 92%-93% amino acid sequence identity to that of the A. thaliana alcohol dehydrogenase. The great majority of the sequence differences from the A. thaliana Adh-coding sequence, and also between three different Leavenworthia species, are synonymous, suggesting that all are currently functional (or have been in the recent evolutionary past). The loci differ in the numbers of introns present, with one locus (Adh-3) having no introns present. RT-PCR tests detect expression of all three loci. Linkage data using variant alleles identified by single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis show that the three Leavenworthia loci are not closely linked. The results therefore suggest that the Adh-3 locus may have arisen via an mRNA intermediate but, despite loss of the introns, is expressed.

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