We have previously identified a cluster of 16 genes that encode hair-specific proteins, called keratin-associated proteins (KAPs), located on human Chromosome (Chr) 21q22.3. Here, we have identified similar KAP gene clusters in two primates, chimpanzee and baboon. DNA sequence comparison revealed the common cluster structure consisting of 16 KAP genes for these three primates, but a significant difference was found in the baboon. Baboon possesses a new KAP gene not found in human and chimpanzee, whereas one KAP gene (KRTAP18.12) that exists in human and chimpanzee was lost in baboon, making no change in the total number of KAP genes. Interestingly, the sequence for coding regions are highly variable among species owing to insertions and deletions, resulting in variation of gene size. On the contrary, the sequences for the 5′ upstream region are highly conserved among species. These findings suggest that the ancestral KAP gene cluster was composed of 17 genes before the divergence of Old World monkeys (baboon) to the anthropoid (human and chimpanzee).
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