Analysis of GC-rich repetitive nucleotide sequences in great apes

R. Meneveri, A. Agresti, M. Rocchi, A. Marozzi, E. Ginellil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The genomes of four primate species, belonging to the families Pongidae (chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan) and Hylobatidae (gibbons), have been analyzed for the presence and organization of two human GC-rich heterochromatic repetitive sequences: βSatellite (βSat) and LongSau (LSau) repeats. By Southern blot hybridization and PCR, both families of repeats were detected in all the analyzed species, thus indicating their origin in an ape ancestor. In the chimpanzee and gorilla, as in man, βSat sequences showed a 68-bp Sau3A periodicity and were preferentially organized in large clusters, whereas in the orangutan, they were organized in DNA fragments of 550 bp, which did not seem to be characterized by a tandem organization. On the contrary, in each of the analyzed species, the bulk of LSau sequences showed a longer Sau3A periodicity than that observed in man (450–550 bp). Furthermore, only in the chimpanzee genome some of LSau repeats seemed to be interspersed within blocks of βSat sequences. This sequence organization, which also characterizes the human genome, is probably absent in the gorilla. In fact, the analysis of a gorilla genomic library suggested that LSau repeats are not preferentially in linkage with βSat sequences. Moreover, LSau sequences were found in a genomic sector characterized by the simultaneous presence of L1 and (CA) repeats, as well as of anonymous sequences and known genes. In spite of the different sequence organization, the nucleotide differences between complete human and gorilla LSau repeats were very few, whereas one gorilla LSau repeat, interrupted by a probably-truncated L1 transposon, showed a higher degree of divergence. Besides the gorilla, this unusual sequence organization was detected in man, and, to a lesser extent, in the chimpanzee.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-412
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • Evolution
  • Heterochromatin
  • L1 transposon
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Primate
  • Repetitive sequences
  • β Satellite sequences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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