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Recent amplification of an alpha satellite DNA in humans.

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  • Archaeology
  • Biology


A repeat sequence 682 base pairs (bp) long produced by cleavage of human DNA with Xba I restriction enzyme is composed of four tandemly arranged subunits with lengths of 171, 170, 171, and 170 bp each. The sequence organization of the 682 bp Xba I repeat bears a striking resemblance to other complex satellite DNAs of primates, including the Eco RI human alpha satellite family which also occurs as a 170 bp repeat. The Eco RI tetramer and the 682 bp Xba I repeat show a sequence divergence of 21%. The 682 bp Xba I repeat sequence is restricted to humans and is only distantly related to the previously reported 340 bp Xba human repeated DNA sequence. These finding are consistent with the concept of occasional amplifications of members or groups of members of alpha satellite DNA during human evolution. Amplifications apparently occurred after humans, apes and gibbons diverged from Old World monkeys (Eco RI satellite), after humans and apes diverged from gibbons (340 bp Xba I satellite) and after humans diverged from the great apes (682 bp Xba I satellite).

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