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J Biol Chem. 1989 Jan 5;264(1):68-79.

Tarsius delta- and beta-globin genes: conversions, evolution, and systematic implications.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201.


Comparisons between duplicated genes have shown that gene conversions play an important role in the evolution of multigene families. Previous comparisons have documented in the recently duplicated gamma-fetal globin genes of catarrhine primates, over 15 separate conversions affecting extensive stretches of coding and noncoding sequences. In the present study, delta- and beta- globin genes from a lower primate Tarsius syrichta, and the delta-globin gene of the Asian great ape, Pongo pygmaeus, have been isolated and sequenced. Comparisons of these sequences with other primate delta and beta sequences confirmed a previously reported conversion in an anthropoid ancestor and revealed additional conversions in basal primate, stem haplorhine, tarsier, and early lemur lineages. Conversions found between primate delta- and beta-globin genes contrast with those found in the gamma-genes in that delta-beta conversions appear much less frequently and are more restricted to regions conserved by selection (i.e. coding and 5'-regulatory sequences). These differences indicate that soon after a duplication occurs, conversions can be quite frequent and encompass extensive portions of the duplicated region. With time, sequence differences accumulate, particularly in noncoding regions, and limit both the frequency and size of the conversions. Sequences conserved by selection accumulate differences more slowly and are therefore subject to gene conversions for a longer period of time. Both unconverted and converted sequences were consistent in supporting the placement of tarsier with anthropoids.

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