Gene duplication events are followed by divergence of initially identical gene copies, due to the subsequent accumulation of mutations. These mutations tend to be degenerative and may lead to either nonfunctionalization or subfunctionalization of the gene copies. Here we report the molecular characterization of a 220-kb genomic DNA fragment from human 2q37.1, in which a double duplication and a partial triplication event has taken place. As a result, this region contains four copies of alkaline phosphatase (P), four copies of the ECEL1 gene (X), two copies of a newly identified gene (N), and two copies of a cholinergic receptor subunit (R), in the order N-P-X-P-X-P-X-N-P-X-R-R. While three of the four ECEL1 copies, one copy of the phosphatase gene and one copy of the newly identified gene have lost their function, three phosphatase gene copies and the two receptor subunits are still functionally active and thus may provide an example for subfunctionalization of duplicated genes.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.