The group-specific component (GC), also known as the vitamin D-binding protein, transports vitamin D and its metabolites in plasma to target tissues throughout the body. The GC gene shares an evolutionary origin with genes encoding albumin (ALB) and α-fetoprotein (AFP). All three genes are descendants of an evolutionary ancestor that arose from an intragenic triplication. As a result, each gene is composed of three homologous domains. The study described here characterizes and compares mouse GC to the corresponding nucleotide and amino acid sequences of GC from human and rat. The deduced amino acid sequence of mouse GC was 78% identical to human and 91% identical to rat GC. The results suggest that, unlike the corresponding sequences in the ALB and AFP genes, chromosomal sequences encoding the first domain and the leader sequence of the GC gene have specifically been conserved throughout vertebrate evolution. Protection of domain I during evolution may correlate with an important functional aspect of its sequence. The mouse GC gene was mapped to chromosome 5, where the ALB and AFP genes are also located, demonstrating conservation of the three genes in vertebrate species.
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