A comparison of the sequence of two human 7SK RNA pseudogenes, covering approx. 190 and 240 base-pairs of the structural gene, is presented. Both repeated elements are flanked by direct repeats and begin at the 5′ end of the gene. Each terminates approx. 90 base-pairs short of the 3′ end, the latter representing a continuous sequence and the former carrying an internal deletion of about 40 base-pairs, this region being flanked in the progenitor gene by short repeated sequences. Southern blotting using a human 7SK pseudogene probe illuminated a series of multiple restriction fragments in mammalian genomes, with generally fewer fragments in the genomes of birds and reptiles and a single reactive fragment in DNA from terrapin (Pseudemys scripta elegans) and Xenopus laevis (South African clawed toad). In the latter case this fragment was only detectable on long exposure under the hybridization stringencies employed. 7SK transcripts were readily detectable in all mammalian, avian, reptilian and amphibian species analysed, although the gene appeared to be expressed at rather low levels in the ovaries of Xenopus laevis, possibly accounting for its failure to have become dispersed via ‘retroposition’ in this species.

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