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J Biol Chem. 1988 Sep 5;263(25):12427-38.

Rhesus fetal globin genes. Concerted gene evolution in the descent of higher primates.

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Molecular Biology Division, Upjohn Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007.


The comparison of the nucleotide sequences of closely linked duplicated genes of higher eukaryotes has been important in the identification of molecular events that shape the evolution of mammalian genes, most notably recombinational events such as unequal crossovers and gene conversions. Toward this goal we have been comparing the nucleotide sequences of the paired gamma 1- and gamma 2-fetal globin genes from species of catarrhine primates. Previous comparisons document that, within each great ape species as in humans, the paired gamma-genes have been involved in gene conversion events. We now extend our analysis to the catarrhine superfamily Cercopithecoidea by obtaining the nucleotide sequence of the paired gamma 1- and gamma 2-genes of rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta). The rhesus gamma 1- and gamma 2-genes diverge less from each other than from human, chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan gamma 1- or gamma 2-genes. This finding indicates that a species-specific gene conversion occurred between rhesus gamma 1- and gamma 2-genes. This gamma-gene conversion (labeled C14 in our series) involved at least 1898 base pairs, extending across the complete transcriptional region of the rhesus gamma-genes. C14 could have resulted from a single large conversion or several short conversion events which may have involved the (TG)n repetitive sequence element. Parsimony analysis of the enlarged body of gamma-gene sequence data also strengthens the evidence for the 14 previously suggested gamma-gene conversion events: labeled C2, C3, and C4 in Homo; C5, C6, and C7 in Pan; C8, C9, and C10 in Gorilla; C11, C12, C13 in Pongo; C1 in the stem to Homininae (the subfamily of Homo, Pan, and Gorilla) and CO in the stem of Hominidae (the family of Pongo and Homininae).

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