The nucleotide sequences of 13 cDNAs encoding group II phospholipases A2 (PLA2S), which are from viperidae snake venoms and from mammalian sources, were aligned and analyzed by phylogenetic trees constructed using various components of the sequences. The evolutionary trees derived from the combined sequences of the untranslated (5′ and 3′) region and the signal peptide region of cDNAs were in accord with the consequences from taxonomy. In contrast, the evolutionary trees from the mature protein-coding region sequences of cDNAs and from the amino acid sequences showed random patterns. These observations indicated that the mature protein-coding region has evolved through a process differently from the untranslated and signal peptide regions. The trees built from the nucleotide differences at each of three positions of codons in the mature protein-coding region suggested that snakevenom-gland PLA2 genes have evolved via a process different from mammalian PLA2 genes. The occurrence of accelerated evolution has been recently discovered in Trimeresurus flavoviridis venom-gland group II PLA2 isozyme genes (Nakashima et al. 1993, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 90:5964–5968), so the present phylogenetic analysis together with the estimation of nucleotide divergence of cDNAs provides further evidence that snakevenom-group II PLA2 isozyme genes have evolved by accelerated evolution to gain diverse physiological activities.
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