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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Steven Clifford
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Comparative genome analysis may provide novel insights into gene evolution and function. To investigate the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease tumor suppressor gene, we sequenced the VHL gene in seven primate species. Comparative analysis was performed for human, primate, and rodent VHL genes and for a putative Caenorhabditis elegans VHL homologue identified by database analysis. The VHL gene has two translation initiation sites (at codons 1 and 54); however, the relative importance of the full-length translation product (pVHL30) and that translated from the second internal translation initiation site (pVHL19) is unclear. The N-terminal sequence of pVHL30 contains eight copies of a GXEEX acidic repeat motif in human and higher primates, but only three copies were present in the marmoset, and only one copy was present in rodent VHL genes. Evolutionary analysis suggested that the N-terminal repetitive sequence in pVHL30 was of less functional importance than those regions present in both pVHL30 and pVHL19. The VHL gene product is reported to form complexes with various proteins including elongin B, elongin C, VBP-1, fibronectin, Spl, CUL2, and HIF-1. Although most of the regions in pVHL that had been implicated in binding specific proteins demonstrated evolutionary conservation, the carboxy-terminal putative VBP-1 binding site was less well conserved, suggesting that VBP-1 binding may have less functional significance. Although an amino acid substitution (K171T) close to the pVHL elongin binding region was found in baboon, analysis of the structure of human pVHL suggested that this substitution would not interfere with pVHL/elongin C interaction. In general, there was a good correlation between the pVHL domains that demonstrated most evolutionary conservation and those that were most frequently mutated in tumors. Analysis of human/C. elegans conservation and human germline and somatic mutation patterns identified a highly conserved mutation cluster region between codons 74 and 90. However, this region is likely to be important for the structural integrity of pVHL rather than representing an additional protein binding domain.
Author(s): Woodward ER, Buchberger A, Clifford SC, Hurst LD, Affara NA, Maher ER
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
ISSN (print): 0888-7543
ISSN (electronic): 1089-8646
PubMed id: 10857749
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