Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 252-259

First online:

Molecular evolution of theSaccharomyces cerevisiae histone gene loci

  • M. Mitchell SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Virginia

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The core histone genes ofSaccharomyces cerevisiae are arranged as duplicate nonallelic sets of specifically paired genes. The identity of structural organization between the duplicated gene pairs would have its simplest evolutionary origin in the duplication of a complete locus in a single event. In such a case, the time since the duplication of one of the genes should be identical to that since duplication of the gene adjacent to it on the chromosome. A calculation of the evolutionary distances between the coding DNA sequences of the histone genes leads to a duplication paradox: The extents of sequence divergence in the silent component of third-base positions for adjacent pairs of genes are not identical. Estimates of the evolutionary distance between the two H3-H4 noncoding intergene DNA sequences are large; the divergence between the two separate sequences is indistinguishable from the divergence between either of the regions and a randomly generated permutation of itself. These results suggest that the duplication event may have occurred much earlier than previously estimated. The potential age of the duplication, and the attractive simplicity of the duplication of both the H3-H4 and the H2A-H2B gene pairs having taken place in a single event, leads to the hypothesis that modern haploidS. cerevisiae may have evolved by diploidization or fusion of two ancient fungi.

Key words

Histone genes Gene conversion Diploidization Yeast