, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 17-30

Evolution of the primate β-Globin gene region: Nucleotide sequence of the δ-β-globin Intergenic region of gorilla and phylogenetic relationships between African Apes and Man

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A 6.0-kb DNA fragment from Gorilla gorilla including the 5′ part of the β-globin gene and about 4.5 kb of its upstream flanking region was cloned and sequenced. The sequence was compared to the human, chimpanzee, and macaque δ-β intergenic region. This analysis reveals four tandemly repeated sequences (RS), at the same location in the four species, showing a variable number of repeats generating both intraspecific (polymorphism) and interspecific variability. These tandem arrays delimit five regions of unique sequence called IG for intergenic. The divergence for these IG sequences is 1.85 ± 0.22% between human and gorilla, which is not significantly different from the value estimated in the same region between chimpanzee and human (1.62 ± 0.21%). The CpG and TpA dinucleotides are avoided. CpGs evolve faster than other sequence sites but do not confuse phylogenetic inferences by producing parallel mutations in different lineages. About 75% of CpG doublets have become TpG or CpA since the common ancestor, in agreement with the methylation/deamination pattern. Comparison of this intergenic region gives information on branching order within Hominoidea. Parsimony and distance-based methods when applied to the δ-β intergenic region provide evidence (although not statistically significant) that human and chimpanzee are more closely related to each other than to gorilla. CpG sites are indeed rich in information by carrying substitutions along the short internal branch. Combining these results with those on the ψη—δ intergenic region, shows in a statistically significant way that chimpanzee is the closest relative of human.