Chimpanzee fetal G gamma and A gamma globin gene nucleotide sequences provide further evidence of gene conversions in hominine evolution

Mol Biol Evol. 1985 Sep;2(5):370-89. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a040357.


The fetal globin genes G gamma and A gamma from one chromosome of a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) were sequenced and found to be closely similar to the corresponding genes of man and the gorilla. These genes contain identical promoter and termination signals and have exons 1 and 2 separated by the conserved short intron 1 (122 bp) and exons 2 and 3 separated by the more rapidly evolving, larger intron 2 (893 bp and 887 bp in chimpanzee G gamma and A gamma, respectively). Each intron 2 has a stretch of simple sequence DNA (TG)n serving possibly as a "hot spot" for recombination. The two chimpanzee genes encode polypeptide chains that differ only at position 136 (glycine in G gamma and alanine in A gamma) and that are identical to the corresponding human chains, which have aspartic acid at position 73 and lysine at 104 in contrast to glycine and arginine at these respective positions of the gorilla A gamma chain. Phylogenetic analysis by the parsimony method revealed four silent (synonymous) base substitutions in evolutionary descent of the chimpanzee G gamma and A gamma codons and none in the human and gorilla codons. These Homininae (Pan, Homo, Gorilla) coding sequences evolved at one-tenth the average mammalian rate for nonsynonymous and one-fourth that for synonymous substitutions. Three sequence regions that were affected by gene conversions between chimpanzee G gamma and A gamma loci were identified: one extended 3' of the hot spot with G gamma replaced by the A gamma sequence, another extended 5' of the hot spot with A gamma replaced by G gamma, and the third conversion extended from the 5' flanking to the 5' end of intron 2, with G gamma replaced here by the A gamma sequence. A conversion similar to this third one has occurred independently in the descent of the gorilla genes. The four previously identified conversions, labeled C1-C4 (Scott et al. 1984), were substantiated with the addition of the chimpanzee genes to our analysis (C1 being shared by all three hominines and C2, C3, and C4 being found only in humans). Thus, the fetal genes from all three of these hominine species have been active in gene conversions during the descent of each species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution
  • DNA / genetics
  • Gene Conversion
  • Globins / genetics*
  • Gorilla gorilla / genetics
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics*


  • Globins
  • DNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X03109
  • GENBANK/X03110