Evolution of the rat kallikrein gene family: Gene conversion leads to functional diversity
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- Wines, D.R., Brady, J.M., Michelle Southard, E. et al. J Mol Evol (1991) 32: 476. doi:10.1007/BF02102650
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Kallikrein-like simple serine proteases are encoded by closely related members of a gene family in several mammalian species. Molecular cloning and genomic Southern blot analysis after conventional and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis indicate that the rat kallikrein gene family comprises 15–20 members, probably closely linked at a single locus. Determination of the nucleotide sequences of the rGK-3,-4, and-6 genes here completes sequence data for a total of nine rat kallikrein family members. Comparison of the rat gene sequences to each other and to those of human and mouse kallikrein family genes reveals patterns of relatedness indicative of concerted evolution. Analysis of nucleotide sequence variants in kallikrein family members shows that most sequence variants are shared by multiple family members; the patterns of shared variants are complex and indicate multiple short gene conversions between family members. Sequence exchanges between family members generate novel assortments of variants in amino acid coding regions that may affect substrate specificity and thereby contribute to the diversity of enzyme activity. Furthermore, small sequence exchanges also may play a role in generating the diverse patterns of tissue-specific expression of rat family members. These analyses indicate an important role for gene conversion in the evolution of the functional diversity of these duplicated genes.