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J Biol Chem. 1994 May 6;269(18):13685-8.

Cloning and chromosomal mapping of the human nonfunctional gene for L-gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase, the enzyme for L-ascorbic acid biosynthesis missing in man.

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Institute of Applied Biochemistry, Yagi Memorial Park, Gifu, Japan.


Man is among the exceptional higher animals that are unable to synthesize L-ascorbic acid because of their deficiency in L-gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase, the enzyme catalyzing the terminal step in L-ascorbic acid biosynthesis. In the present study, we isolated a segment of the nonfunctional L-gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase gene from a human genomic library, and mapped it on chromosome 8p21.1 by spot blot hybridization using flow-sorted human chromosomes and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Sequencing analysis indicated that the isolated segment represented a 3'-part of the gene, where the regions corresponding to exons VII, IX, X, and XII of the rat L-gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase gene remain with probable deletion of the regions corresponding to exons VIII and XI. In the identified exon regions were found various anomalous nucleotide changes, such as deletion and insertion of nucleotide(s) and nonconformance to the GT/AG rule at intron/exon boundaries. When the conceptual amino acid sequences deduced from the four exon sequences were compared with the corresponding rat sequences, there were a large number of nonconservative substitutions and also two stop codons. These findings indicate that the human nonfunctional L-gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase gene has accumulated a large number of mutations without selective pressure since it ceased to function during evolution.

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