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van Daal A, White EM, Elgin SC, Gorovsky MA. Conservation of intron position indicates separation of major and variant H2As is an early event in the evolution of eukaryotes. J Mol Evol. 1990;30(5):449–455. doi:10.1007/bf02101116


Genomic clones of Drosophila and Tetrahymena histone H2A variants were isolated using the corresponding cDNA clones (van Daal et al. 1988; White et al. 1988). The site corresponding to the initiation of transcription was defined by primer extension for both Drosophila and Tetrahymena genomic sequences. The sequences of the genomic clones revealed the presence of introns in each of the genes. The Drosophila gene has three introns: one immediately following the initiation codon, one between amino acids 26 and 27 (gln and phe), and one between amino acids 64 and 65 (glu and val). The Tetrahymena gene has two introns, the positions of which are identical to the first two introns of the Drosophila gene. The chicken H2A.F variant gene has been recently sequenced and it contains four introns (Dalton et al. 1989). The first three of these are in the same positions as the introns in the Drosophila gene. The fourth intron interrupts amino acid 108 (gly). In all cases the sizes and the sequences of the introns are divergent. However, the fact that they are in conserved positions suggests that at least two of the introns were present in the ancestral gene. A phylogenetic tree constructed from the sequences of the variant and major cell cycle-regulated histone H2A proteins from several species indicates that the H2A variant proteins are evolutionarily separate and distinct from the major cell cycle-regulated histone H2A proteins. The ancestral H2A gene must have duplicated and diverged before fungi and ciliates diverged from the rest of the eukaryote lineage. In addition, it appears that the variant histone H2A proteins analyzed here are more conserved than the major histone H2A proteins.


©Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

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