Globin genes from the Caenorhabditis species briggsae and remanei were identified and compared with a previously described C. elegans globin gene. The encoded globins share between 86% and 93% amino acid identity, with most of the changes in or just before the putative B helix. C. remanei was found to have two globin alleles, Crg1-1 and Crg1-2. The coding sequence for each is interrupted by a single intron in the same position. The exons of the two genes are only 1% divergent at the nucleotide level and encode identical polypeptides. In contrast, intron sequence divergence is 16% and numerous insertions and deletions have significantly altered the size and content of both introns. Genetic crosses show that Crg1-1 and Crg1-2 segregate as alleles. Homozygous lines for each allele were constructed and northern analysis confirmed the expression of both alleles. These data reveal an unusual situation wherein two alleles encoding identical proteins have diverged much more rapidly in their introns than the silent sites of their coding sequences, suggesting multiple gene conversion events.
- Gene conversion