In most mammals the growth hormone (GH) locus comprises a single gene expressed primarily in the anterior pituitary gland. However, in higher primates multiple duplications of the GH gene gave rise to a complex locus containing several genes. In man this locus comprises five genes, including GH-N (expressed in pituitary) and four genes expressed in the placenta, but in other species the number and organization of these genes vary. The situation in chimpanzee has been unclear, with suggestions of up to seven GH-like genes. We have re-examined the GH locus in chimpanzee and have deduced the complete sequence. The locus includes five genes apparently organized in a fashion similar to that in human, with two of these genes encoding GH-like proteins, and three encoding chorionic somatomammotropins/placental lactogens (CSHs/PLs). There are notable differences between the human and chimpanzee loci with regard to the expressed proteins, gene regulation, and gene conversion events. In particular, one human gene (hCSH-L) has changed substantially since the chimpanzee/human split, potentially becoming a pseudogene, while the corresponding chimpanzee gene (CSH-A1) has been conserved, giving a product almost identical to the adjacent CSH-A2. Chimpanzee appears to produce two CSHs, with potentially differing biological properties, whereas human produces a single CSH. The pattern of gene conversion in human has been quite different from that in chimpanzee. The region around the GH-N gene in chimpanzee is remarkably polymorphic, unlike the corresponding region in human. The results shed new light on the complex evolution of the GH locus in higher primates.
Mammalian Genome – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 31, 2012
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