Complete nucleotide sequence of the rabbit beta-like globin gene cluster: insights into evolution and regulation.

R. C. Hardison, J. B. Margot, G. W. Demers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The general pattern of sequence matches between the beta-like globin gene clusters of rabbits and humans are summarized in Fig. 7. The regions of matching sequences are shaded, and it can be seen that the matches extend from one end of the gene cluster to the other. This provides very strong evidence that the ancestral species had a gene cluster containing the parents to all the contemporary beta-like globin genes in the same arrangement that we observe today. Much of the intergenic DNA has been diverging at a rate consistent with neutral drift, but smaller regions can be detected that are diverging more slowly and which are good candidates for functional sequences. The comparisons between this same gene cluster in mouse and humans show many fewer matches in the intergenic regions (Shehee et al., 1989), indicating either an earlier split between rodents and primates or a faster rate of divergence in rodents. However, this more divergent sequence may prove particularly valuable in a search for functional sequences, especially in a three-way alignment between the sequenced gene clusters. Every repetitive element in homologous segments of the rabbit and human beta-like globin gene clusters interrupts the homology; no repeat is in the same position in both species. Hence all the repeats have been inserted into the gene clusters after the divergence between lagomorphs and primates. This is true even for the L1 repeats, which are very similar between species in their ORF regions. This pattern of interspersion of repeats in long orthologous regions shows that many members of the LINE and SINE families are recent additions to the genome, and that these repeats are in fact transposable elements. It is easy to imagine negative and neutral effects of the expansion and transpositions of these repeat families, but some positive effect has not been ruled out. One of the intriguing inferences from the observations about repeats is that the ancestral gene cluster may not have contained repetitive elements. If it did, then those repeats have been completely replaced by different repeats independently in lagomorphs and primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalProgress in clinical and biological research
Volume316 B
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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