Organization of the human RH50A gene (RHAG) and evolution of base composition of the RH gene family

Genomics. 1998 Jan 15;47(2):286-93. doi: 10.1006/geno.1997.5112.


Human Rh (rhesus) antigens are expressed in the red cell membrane as a multi-subunit complex, the central core of which is presumably composed of a tetramer made of two Rh and two Rh50 protein subunits. The interaction between Rh and Rh50 polypeptides is thought to be crucial to the correct assembly and transport of the complex to the cell surface. Here, we show that the human RH50A gene (RHAG) is composed of 10 exons whose size and exon/intron junctions are well conserved compared to those of the RH genes. We have also analyzed the RH50A 5' flanking region where the transcription initiation site has been identified. These results conclusively establish that the RH50A and RH genes do belong to the same gene family. Moreover, we show that the RH50A and RH genes are embedded in different compositional genomic contexts (i.e., different isochores) that are likely to drive the evolution of these genes, the base compositions (G + C content) of which differ drastically. Finally, we propose a scenario in which an RH50-like gene is likely to have played a founding role in the evolution of the RH gene family.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Composition
  • Base Sequence
  • Blood Proteins / chemistry*
  • Blood Proteins / genetics*
  • Cattle
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Exons
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry*
  • Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Introns
  • Macaca
  • Membrane Glycoproteins*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Nematoda
  • Phylogeny
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Blood Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • RHAG protein, human
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System