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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2003;101(2):161-5.

Gene arrangement at the Rhesus blood group locus of chimpanzees detected by fiber-FISH.

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Department of Integrated Biosciences, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan.


The Rhesus (Rh) blood group system in humans is encoded by two genes with high sequence homology. These two genes, namely, RHCE and RHD, have been implied to be duplicated during evolution. However, the genomic organization of Rh genes in chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates has not been precisely studied. We analyzed the arrangement of the Rh genes of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) by two-color fluorescence in situ hybridization on chromatin DNA fibers (fiber-FISH) using two genomic DNA probes that respectively contain introns 3 and 7 of human RH genes. Among the five chimpanzees studied, three were found to be homozygous for the two-Rh-gene type, in an arrangement of Rh (5'-->3') - Rh (3'<--5'). Although a similar gene arrangement can be detected in the RH gene locus of typical Rh-positive humans, the distance between the two genes in chimpanzees was about 50 kb longer than that in humans. The remaining two chimpanzees were homozygous for a four-Rh-gene type, in an arrangement of Rh (5'-->3') - Rh (3'<--5') - Rh (3'<--5') - Rh (3'<--5') within a region spanning about 300 kb. This four-Rh-gene type has not been detected in humans. Further analysis of other great apes showed different gene arrangements: a bonobo was homozygous for the three-Rh-gene type; a gorilla was heterozygous for the one-Rh- and two-Rh-gene types; an orangutan was homozygous for the one-Rh-gene type. Our findings on the intra- and interspecific genomic variations in the Rh gene locus in Hominoids would shed further light on reconstructing the genomic pathways of Rh gene duplication during evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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