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Immunogenetics. 1997;46(2):82-92.

Evolution of the proteasome components.

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Department of Biology and Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics, 208 Mueller Laboratory, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


A phylogenetic analysis of proteasome subunits revealed two major families (alpha and beta) which originated by an ancient gene duplication prior to the divergence of archaebacteria and eukaryotes. Numerous gene duplications have subsequently occurred in eukaryotes; at least nine of these duplications were shown to have occurred prior to the divergence of animals and fungi. In mammals, two genes encoding proteasome subunits (LMP2 and LMP7) are located in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region and play a specific role in generation of peptides for presentation by class I MHC molecules. Phylogenetic analysis of LMP7 and related sequences from mammals and lower vertebrates indicated that this locus arose by gene duplication prior to the divergence of jawed and jawless vertebrates; the time of this duplication was estimated to have been about 600 million years ago. The evolutionary history of the proteasome subunits provides support for a model of the evolution of new gene function postulating that, after gene duplication, the proteins encoded by daughter loci can adapt to specialized functions previously performed by the product of a single generalized ancestral locus.

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