Molecular origin of the mosaic sequence arrangements of higher primate α-globin duplication units

Arnold D. Bailey, Chien Celia Shen, Che Kun James Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The human adult α-globin locus consists of three pairs of homology blocks (X, Y, and Z) interspersed with three nonhomologous blocks (I, II, and III), and three Alu family repeats, Alu1, Alu2, and Alu3. It has been suggested that an ancient primate α-globin-containing unit was ancestral to the X, Y, and Z and the Alu1/Alu2 repeats. However, the evolutionary origin of the three nonhomologous blocks has remained obscure. We have now analyzed the sequence organization of the entire adult α-globin locus of gibbon (Hylobates lar). DNA segments homologous to human block 1 occur in both duplication units of the gibbon α-globin locus. Detailed interspecies sequence comparisons suggest that nonhomologous blocks I and II, as well as another sequence. IV, were all part of the ancestral α-globin-containing unit prior to its tandem duplication. However, sometime thereafter, block I was deleted from the human α1-globin-containing unit, and block II was also deleted from the α2-globin-containing unit in both human and gibbon. These were probably independent events both mediated by independent illegitimate recombination processes. Interestingly, the end points of these deletions coincide with potential insertion sites of Alu family repeats. These results suggest that the shaping of DNA segments in eukaryotic genomes involved the retroposition of repetitive DNA elements in conjunction with simple DNA recombination processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5177-5182
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 13 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • α-globin locus
  • DNA deletion
  • evolution
  • gibbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular origin of the mosaic sequence arrangements of higher primate α-globin duplication units'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this