Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 163–172 | Cite as

The γ-crystallin gene families: Sequence and evolutionary patterns

  • Henk J. M. Aarts
  • Johan T. den Dunnen
  • Jack Leunissen
  • Nicolette H. Lubsen
  • John G. G. Schoenmakers


The γ-crystallin proteins consist of two topologically equivalent domains, each built up out of two similar motifs. They are encoded by a gene family, which already contained five members before the divergence of rodents and primates. A further gene duplication took place in each lineage. To analyze the pattern of evolution within this gene family, the coding sequences of six human genes, six rat genes, and four mouse genes were compared. Between species, a uniform rate of evolution of all regions of the protein is seen. The ratio of synonymous to nonsynonymous substitution in the human/rat or human/mouse comparison is much lower than the ratio when rat and mouse are compared indicating that the γ-crystallin proteins are better conserved in the rodent lineage. Within species, the regions encoding the two external motifs I and III of the protein show a greater extent of nonsynonymous substitution than the regions encoding the two internal protein motifs II and IV. The low extent of synonymous substitution between the second exons (encoding motifs I and II) of the rat γ-crystallin genes suggests the frequent occurrence of gene conversion. In contrast, a high extent of synonymous substitution is found in exon 3 (encoding motifs III and IV) of the rat genes. The same phenomenon is seen within the human gene family. The frequencies of occurrence of the various dinucleotides deviate less from those predicted from the frequencies of occurrence of each individual nucleotide in the second exons than in the third exons. The sequences of the third exons are significantly depleted in CpG, ApA, and GpT and enriched in CpT and GpA.

Key words

γ-crystallin genes Concerted evolution Gene conversion Dinucleotide frequencies 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henk J. M. Aarts
    • 1
  • Johan T. den Dunnen
    • 1
  • Jack Leunissen
    • 2
  • Nicolette H. Lubsen
    • 1
  • John G. G. Schoenmakers
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Molecular BiologyUniversity of NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Laboratory of BiochemistryUniversity of NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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