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Nature. 1982 Jul 15;298(5871):297-300.

Phylogenetic origins and adaptive evolution of avian and mammalian haemoglobin genes.


Recent years have seen rapid growth in amino acid sequence data on globins and nucleotide sequence data on haemoglobin genes and pseudogenes, and cladistic analysis of these data continues to reveal new facets of globin evolution. Our present findings demonstrate: (1) avian and mammalian embryonic alpha genes (pi and xi, respectively) had a monophyletic origin involving an alpha locus duplication about 400 Myr ago soon after the duplication which separated alpha and beta genes; (2) much later in phylogeny, independent beta-gene duplications produced the embryonic rho locus of birds and embryonic epsilon and fetal gamma loci of mammals. This parallels the earlier finding that myoglobins evolved more than once from generalized globin ancestors. Here we support the view that such globin evolution resulted from natural selection acting on mutations in duplicated genes. Thus, our evidence contradicts the neutralist view in which almost all amino acid substitutions in descent to extant globins evaded positive selection.

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