Vitellogenesis and the vitellogenin gene family

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Science  17 Apr 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4492, pp. 298-304
DOI: 10.1126/science.7209528


Vitellogenin is synthesized under estrogen control in the liver, extensively modified, transported to the ovary, and there processed to the yolk proteins lipovitellin and phosvitin. In the frog Xenopus laevis there are at least four distinct but related vitellogenin genes. The two genes A1 and A2 have a 95 percent sequence homology in their messenger RNA coding regions, and contain 33 introns that interrupt the coding region (exons) at homologous positions. Sequences and lengths of analogous introns differ, and many introns contain repetitive DNA elements. The introns in these two genes that have apparently arisen by duplication have diverged extensively by events that include deletions, insertions, and probably duplications. Rapid evolutionary change involving rearrangements and the presence of repeated DNA suggests that the bulk of the sequences within introns may not have any specific function.