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J Mol Evol. 1991 May;32(5):429-38.

Vitellogenin motifs conserved in nematodes and vertebrates.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405.


Caenorhabditis elegans vitellogenins are encoded by a family of six genes, one of which, vit-5, has been previously sequenced and shown to be surprisingly closely related to the vertebrate vitellogenin genes. Here we report an alignment of the amino acid sequences of vitellogenins from frog and chicken with those from three C. elegans genes: vit-5 and two newly sequenced genes, vit-2 and vit-6. The four introns of vit-6 are all in different places from the four introns of vit-5, but three of these eight positions are identical or close to intron locations in the vertebrate vitellogenin genes. The encoded polypeptides have diverged from one another sufficiently to allow us to draw some conclusions about conserved positions. Many cysteine residues have been conserved, suggesting that vitellogenin structure has been maintained over a long evolutionary distance and is dependent upon disulfide bonds. In addition, a 20-residue segment shows conservation between the vertebrate and the nematode vitellogenins. This sequence may play a highly conserved role in vitellogenesis, such as specific recognition by oocytes. On the whole, however, selection may be acting more strongly on amino acid composition and codon usage than on amino acid sequence, as might be expected for abundant storage proteins: The amino acid compositions of vit-2, vit-5, and vit-6 products are remarkably similar, despite the fact that the sequence of the vit-2 protein is only 22% and 50% identical to the sequences of vit-6 and vit-5 proteins, respectively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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