Concerted evolution of the immunoglobulin V(H) gene family

T. Gojobori, M. Nei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


With the aim of understanding the concerted evolution of the immunoglobulin V(H) multigene family, a phylogenetic tree for the DNA sequences of 16 mouse and five human germ line genes was constructed. This tree indicates that all genes in this family have undergone substantial evolutionary divergence. The most closely related genes so far identified in the mouse genome seem to have diverged about 6 million years (MY) ago, whereas the most distantly related genes diverged about 300 MY ago. This suggests that gene duplication caused by unequal crossing-over or gene conversion occurs very slowly in this gene family. The rate of occurrence of gene duplication in the V(H) gene family has been estimated to be 5x10-7 per gene per year, which seems to be at least about 100 times lower than that for the rRNA gene family. This low rate of concerted evolution in the V(H) gene family helps retain intergenic genetic variability that in turn contributes to antibody diversity. Because of accumulation of destructive mutations, however, about one-third of the mouse and human V(H) genes seem to have become nonfunctional. Many of these pseudogenes have apparently originated recently, but some of them seem to hve existed in the genome for more than 10 MY. The rate of nucleotide substitution for the complementarity-determining regions (CDRs) is as high as that of pseudogenes. This suggests that there is virtually no purifying selection operating in the CDRs and that germ line mutations are effectively used for generating antibody diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-212
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology


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