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J Mol Biol. 1989 Jun 5;207(3):465-80.

Evolution and transcription of old world monkey globin genes.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


Although apparently inactive in the whole animal, the delta globin genes from three species of Old World monkey (rhesus, baboon and green monkey) are all functional in an in vitro transcription assay. Their activities in vitro are similar to that of the functional human delta gene. A fourth monkey gene, from the colobus monkey, is transcribed approximately fivefold less efficiently than the others. This reduced in vitro activity results from a 20 base-pair deletion, which removes the normal site of mRNA initiation. When the deletion is repaired by site-directed mutagenesis, transcriptional activity increases to the level observed for the other delta genes. We also report the complete nucleotide sequences of the colobus beta, colobus delta, and rhesus delta genes. Sequence comparisons show that the delta and beta genes in the same species have not exchanged genetic information since the divergence of the human and monkey lineages. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences affirms that the Old World monkey delta genes are evolving more rapidly than their functional counterparts. Moreover, the rate of replacement substitutions has risen to equal that of non-coding DNA, as expected for genes no longer under selective constraint.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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