Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 49, Issue 5, pp 615–626

Evolution of Rh Blood Group Genes Have Experienced Gene Conversions and Positive Selection

  • Takashi  Kitano
  • Naruya  Saitou

DOI: 10.1007/PL00006583

Cite this article as:
Kitano, T. & Saitou, N. J Mol Evol (1999) 49: 615. doi:10.1007/PL00006583


There are two tightly linked loci (D and CE) for the human Rh blood group. Their gene products are membrane proteins having 12 transmembrane domains and form a complex with Rh50 glycoprotein on erythrocytes. We constructed phylogenetic networks of human and nonhuman primate Rh genes, and the network patterns suggested the occurrences of gene conversions. We therefore used a modified site-by-site reconstruction method by using two assumed gene trees and detected 9 or 11 converted regions. After eliminating the effect of gene conversions, we estimated numbers of nonsynonymous and synonymous substitutions for each branch of both trees. Whichever gene tree we selected the branch connecting hominoids and Old World monkeys showed significantly higher nonsynonymous than synonymous substitutions, an indication of positive selection. Many other branches also showed higher nonsynonymous than synonymous substitutions; this suggests that the Rh genes have experienced some kind of positive selection.

Key words: Rh blood group — gene conversion — positive selection 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takashi  Kitano
    • 1
  • Naruya  Saitou
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, 411-8540, JapanJP

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