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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Dec 15;90(24):11777-81.

Evolution and expression of a beta-like globin gene of the Australian marsupial Sminthopsis crassicaudata.

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Department of Genetics, University of Adelaide, South Australia.


A beta-like globin gene was isolated from the Australian dasyurid marsupial Sminthopsis crassicaudata. Nucleotide-sequence analysis of promoter and coding regions of the gene revealed that it was orthologous to eutherian early-expressed (epsilon, gamma, eta) beta-like globin genes. Comparison of the conceptually translated sequence of the gene with a partial amino acid sequence of the adult beta-globin chain from S. crassicaudata provided evidence that the gene was not expressed in adult tissues. In addition, Northern analysis of RNA isolated from an embryo, pouch young, and adult bone marrow indicated that the gene was expressed predominantly in embryonic tissues and that there was a significant reduction in the expression of the gene within a day of birth. These results provide strong support for the hypothesis of Koop and Goodman [Koop, B. F. & Goodman, M. (1988) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 85, 3893-3897] that an embryonic beta-like globin gene existed prior to the divergence of the eutherian and marsupial lineages and that this gene was already differentiated with respect to its promoter regions and developmental expression. The observation that epsilon-globin mRNA was present at least until day 4 postpartum suggests that the epsilon-globin chain may play some role in influencing the physiological properties of hemoglobin in S. crassicaudata neonates.

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