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Mol Biol Evol. 1993 Nov;10(6):1343-59.

Contrasting evolutionary rates in the duplicate chaperonin genes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. leprae.

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Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802.


A phylogenetic analysis of chaperonin (heat shock protein 60) sequences from prokaryotes and eukaryotes indicated that a single gene duplication event in the common ancestor of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. leprae, and Streptomyces albus gave rise to the duplicate chaperonin genes found in these species (designated HSP65 and GroEL in the mycobacterial species). Comparison of rates of synonymous and nonsynonymous nucleotide substitution in different gene regions suggested that the 5' end of the HSP65 gene was homogenized by an ancient recombination event between M. tuberculosis and M. leprae. In S. albus, the two duplicated chaperonin genes have evolved at essentially the same rate. In both M. tuberculosis and M. leprae, however, the GroEL gene has evolved considerably more rapidly at nonsynonymous nucleotide sites than has the HSP65 gene. Because this difference is not seen at synonymous sites, it must be due to a difference in selective constraint on the proteins encoded by the two genes, rather than to a difference in mutation rate. The difference between GroEL and HSP65 is striking in regions containing epitopes recognized by T cells of the vertebrate host; in certain cross-reactive epitopes conserved across all organisms, nonsynonymous sites in GroEL have evolved twice as fast as those in HSP65. It is suggested that these differences are correlated with differences in the way in which the duplicate chaperonins of M. tuberculosis and M. leprae interact with the host immune system.

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