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Cell. 1981 Oct;26(2 Pt 2):191-203.

A history of the human fetal globin gene duplication.


The nucleotide sequence of 11.4 kilobase pairs (kb) of human DNA that includes the two fetal globin genes, G gamma and A gamma, shows that they are part of a 5 kb tandem duplication. A small segment of DNA occurs three times, on either side of and between the two duplicates. We present two models that account for these observations. One model is simple but requires the assumption of a preexisting repetitive element; the other is more complex but does not require the assumption of preexisting repeats. Over much of the 5 kb duplicated region, the present duplicate copies differ by an average of 14% of their bases, from which we calculate that the duplication was first formed about 34 million years ago. However, 1.5 kb of DNA are vitually identical in the two genes analyzed here, probably as a consequence of an intergenic exchange (gene conversion) that replaced part of the diverging A gamma gene with the corresponding part of the G gamma gene. This conversion took place around 1 million years ago. A sequence of repeated dinucleotides may be one signal involved in exchanges leading to this and similar conversions. Cycles of duplication, triplication, deletion and gene conversion on probably common in many multigene families.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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