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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The differential pattern of tissue-specific expression of ruminant pancreatic type ribonucleases may help to understand the evolutionary history of their genes.

Molecular evolutionary analyses of mammalian ribonucleases have shown that gene duplication events giving three paralogous genes occurred in ruminant ancestors. The enzymes of the bovine species encoded by these genes, isolated from pancreas, brain and seminal vesicles, present similar enzymological properties but distinct structural features. In other ruminant species, genomic sequences orthologous to the bovine genes of pancreas and brain ribonucleases encode active enzymes. In mammalian species other than ruminant artiodactyls, only one gene encoding ribonuclease of the pancreatic type is generally present. In this work, we describe a differential pattern of transcriptional expression of the pancreas and brain ribonuclease genes in the ox species and report transcription of the human ribonuclease gene in brain as well as in pancreas and in mammary gland. We also report the molecular cloning of the gene encoding the bovine seminal ribonuclease in which the structural organization already described for the two paralogous genes is conserved. The seminal RNAase is exclusively expressed in seminal vesicles of Bos taurus, whereas in other ruminant species, the orthologous sequence is a pseudogene. Previous studies from a number of research groups demonstrated that, unlike other mammalian ribonucleases, the seminal enzyme is a covalent dimer, and its unique quaternary structure correlates with special biological activities. The major determinant of dimer formation, i.e. the presence of two adjacent cysteine residues, is absent in the pseudogenes. We advance the hypothesis that the differentiation of distinct expression patterns could represent an important evolutionary determinant for the genes encoding pancreas and brain ribonucleases in ruminants, whereas the differentiation of a quaternary structure endowed with new biological functions could be the main determinant for the evolutionary success of the seminal gene in the bovine species.[1]


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