The evolution of a genetic locus encoding small serine proteinase inhibitors.
Clauss A., Lilja H., Lundwall A.
We previously identified a locus on human chromosome 20 that encompasses 14 genes of postulated WFDC-type proteinase inhibitors with a potential role in innate immunity. In an extended study, homologous loci are here described on mouse chromosome 2, rat chromosome 3, and dog chromosome 24. As in humans, the murine and canine loci are divided into two sub-loci separated by 0.2Mb. The majority of genes are conserved in all species, but there are also species-specific gains and losses of genes, e.g., several duplications have yielded four SLPI genes in the rat and, most surprisingly, there is no murine elafin gene. Two human pseudogenes were identified due to the discovery of functional rodent genes. The conservation of different WFDC domains varies considerably, and it is hypothesized that this reflects a dual role of WFDC inhibitors in natural immunity, which is directed both against microbes and proinflammatory cells.