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Hum Mol Genet. 1997 Dec;6(13):2291-9.

Sequences from higher primates orthologous to the human Xp/Yp telomere junction region reveal gross rearrangements and high levels of divergence.

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Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK.


A high level of sequence polymorphism combined with linkage disequilibrium has created a limited number of highly diverged haplotypes across the human Xp/Yp telomere junction region. To gain insight into the unusual genetic characteristics of this region, we have examined the orthologous sequences in the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ), the gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and the orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus). Divergence from the human Xp/Yp sequence is higher (average 2.6-fold) than that observed at other loci. The position of the human Xp/Yp telomere is unique, as additional sequences are present at this location in the other three species. These included an array of subterminal satellite in the chimpanzee and, in the gorilla a small interstitial array of telomere-like repeats followed by sequences with strong homology to the human 18p subterminal region. In the orang-utan, two alleles with different structures were identified. These differ by the presence or absence of a short interspersed nuclear element (SINE) sequence just proximal to long arrays of telomere-like repeat sequences that probably represent the proximal end of the orang-utan Xp/Yp telomere. In addition, a high level of sequence divergence between the two orang-utan structures was identified. This divergence is similar to that observed between the human Xp/Yp telomere-adjacent haplotypes. The high sequence divergence and evidence of gross rearrangements indicate that the Xp/Yp telomeric region has evolved faster than the rest of the genome.

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