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Evolution of a multigene family that encodes the Kunitz chymotrypsin inhibitor in winged bean: a possible intermediate in the generation of a new gene with a distinct pattern of expression

Abstract

Winged bean Kunitz chymotrypsin inhibitor (WCI) accumulates in an organ-specific and temporally regulated manner. The protein is encoded by a multigene family that includes at least four putative inhibitor-coding genes and three pseudogenes. The structure of the WCI genes indicates that an insertion at a 5′ proximal site occurred after duplication of the ancestral WCI gene and that several gene conversion events subsequently contributed to the evolution of this gene family. Analysis of the promoter activity of the 5′ regions of the WCI genes in transgenic tobacco showed that only the 5′ regions of the WCI-3a and WCI-3b genes, which encode the major WCI protein in winged bean, promoted the organ-specific and temporally regulated expression of a reporter gene. The 5′ region of a pseudogene, the WCI-P1 gene which contains frameshift mutations, exhibited constitutive promoter activity in tobacco, an indication that the 5′ region of the WCI-P1 gene might spontaneously have acquired new regulatory sequences during evolution. Since gene conversion is a relatively frequent event and since the homology between the WCI-P1 and WCI-3a/b genes is disrupted at a 5′ proximal site by remnants of an inserted sequence, the WCI-P1 gene appears to be a possible intermediate that could be converted into a new functional gene with a distinct pattern of expression by a single gene-conversion event.

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Received: 17 April 1996 / Accepted: 23 October 1996

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Habu, Y., Peyachoknagul, S., Sakata, Y. et al. Evolution of a multigene family that encodes the Kunitz chymotrypsin inhibitor in winged bean: a possible intermediate in the generation of a new gene with a distinct pattern of expression. Mol Gen Genet 254, 73–80 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004380050392

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  • Key words Evolution
  • Gene conversion
  • Kunitz proteinase inhibitor
  • Multigene family
  • New gene