Block duplications of a zeta-zeta-alpha-theta gene set in the rabbit alpha-like globin gene cluster.

J. F. Cheng, L. Raid, R. C. Hardison

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In order to understand the coordinate regulation between the alpha-like and beta-like globins during the developmental switches in hemoglobin synthesis, we have studied the rabbit alpha-like globin gene family. A cluster of six linked genes arranged 5'-zeta 1-alpha 1-theta 1-zeta 2-zeta 3-theta 2-3' has been isolated as a set of overlapping clones from a library of rabbit genomic DNA. Blot-hybridization analysis of genomic DNA not only confirms this linkage arrangement but also reveals the presence of additional zeta and theta genes. We propose that this gene cluster was generated by a block duplication of a set of alpha-like genes; the proposed duplication unit is zeta-zeta-alpha-theta. Further duplications of a zeta-zeta-theta set are also proposed to have occurred. As expected for a duplicated locus, the rabbit alpha-like gene cluster contains long blocks of internal homology. The Z homology block is about 7.2 kilobase pairs long and contains the zeta genes; the T homology block is about 4.7 kilobase pairs long and contains a theta gene. Surprisingly, both Z and T homology blocks are flanked by a common junction sequence (J) which contains a region very similar to the 3'-untranslated sequence of an alpha-globin gene. Analysis of the J sequences suggests a recombination mechanism by which the alpha gene could have been deleted from the second set of genes in the cluster (zeta 2-zeta 3-theta 2). The relationships among the genes in characterized alpha-like gene clusters in mammals are summarized. The rabbit gene cluster differs from those of other mammals principally in the loss of a gene orthologous to the human psi alpha 1 and in the block duplication of the zeta-zeta-alpha-theta gene set.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5414-5421
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Apr 15 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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