Tandemly arrayed genes (TAGs) account for about one-third of the duplicated genes in eukaryotic genomes. They provide raw genetic material for biological evolution, and play important roles in genome evolution. The 22-kDa prolamin genes in cereal genomes represent typical TAG organization, and provide the good material to investigate gene amplification of TAGs in closely related grass genomes. Here, we isolated and sequenced the Coix 22-kDa prolamin (coixin) gene cluster (283 kb), and carried out a comparative analysis with orthologous 22-kDa prolamin gene clusters from maize and sorghum. The 22-kDa prolamin gene clusters descended from orthologous ancestor genes, but underwent independent gene amplification paths after the separation of these species, therefore varied dramatically in sequence and organization. Our analysis indicated that the gene amplification model of 22-kDa prolamin gene clusters can be divided into three major stages. In the first stage, rare gene duplications occurred from the ancestor gene copy accidentally. In the second stage, rounds of gene amplification occurred by unequal crossing over to form tandem gene array(s). In the third stage, gene array was further diverged by other genomic activities, such as transposon insertions, segmental rearrangements, etc. Unlike their highly conserved sequences, the amplified 22-kDa prolamin genes diverged rapidly at their expression capacities and expression levels. Such processes had no apparent correlation to age or order of amplified genes within TAG cluster, suggesting a fast evolving nature of TAGs after gene amplification. These results provided insights into the amplification and evolution of TAG families in grasses.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 12, 2010
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