Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 901-908

First online:

A reassessment of mammalian αA-crystallin sequences using DNA sequencing: Implications for anthropoid affinities of tarsier

  • Cynthia J. JaworskiAffiliated withSection on Molecular Structure and Function, Laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Biology, National Eye Institute

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αA-crystallin, a major structural protein in the ocular lenses of all vertebrates, has been a valuable tool for molecular phylogenetic studies. This paper presents the complete sequence for human αA-crystallin derived from cDNA and genomic clones. The deduced amino acid sequence differs at two phylogenetically informative positions from that previously inferred from peptide composition. This led us to examine the same region of the αA-crystallin gene in 12 other mammalian species using direct sequencing of PCR-amplified genomic DNA. New sequences were added to the database, and corrections were made to all anthropoid sequences, defining clear synapomorphies for anthropoids as a clade distinct from prosimians. Within the anthropoids there are further synapomorphies delineating hominoids, Old World monkeys, and New World monkeys. Significantly, sequence revisions and the addition of new sequence for a prosimian, the sifaka, eliminate the previous support for the proposed anthropoid affinities of the tarsier inferred from αA-crystallin protein sequences. In addition, DNA sequences provide greater resolution of certain relationships. For example, although they are identical in protein sequence, comparison of DNA sequences clearly separates mouse and the common tree shrew, grouping the tree shrew closer to prosimians. These results show that adding DNA sequences to the existing αA-crystallin database can enhance its value in resolving phylogenetic relationships.

Key words

αA-crystallin Tarsier DNA sequencing Anthropoid